X. (Morocco) vs Sweden
According to the Court's Press Release: The applicant is a Moroccan national who currently lives in Sweden. He has been granted anonymity by the Court. The case concerned his complaint that he would face torture in Morocco if Sweden deported him. The Court had indicated to Sweden under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court in September 2016 that the deportation order should not be carried out until further notice. The applicant was granted a Swedish residence permit in 2005. In March 2016 the Swedish Security Service applied to the Migration Agency for an order to expel him, saying that he was a national security threat. He applied for asylum and international protection during the Migration Agency’s examination of the case, arguing that as the Security Service had labelled him as a terrorist he would risk torture and at least 10 years’ prison if deported to Morocco. Although he had never been suspected of any crime in his native country, the Swedish authorities would inform their Moroccan counterparts of the reason for his arrest and expulsion, which could lead to him being ill-treated and held in arbitrary detention as a terrorism suspect. The Migration Agency granted the Security Service’s request and rejected the applicant’s asylum application. It did not agree with his arguments that he faced a risk of ill-treatment if he was deported and shared the Security Service’s assessment about him. In June 2016 the Migration Court of Appeal agreed with the Migration Agency’s assessment and it was then upheld by the Government in September of the same year. The Government also agreed with the Security Service’s assessment of the applicant and found that it was reasonable to fear that he might commit or participate in a terrorist offence. The Government stayed enforcement of the expulsion order on 22 September 2016 after the Court’s indication. Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment), the applicant complained that if Sweden deported him to Morocco he would be considered as a security threat and subjected to ill-treatment. The Court first noted that both the Migration Agency and the Migration Court of Appeal, when examining the applicant’s case, appear not to have been informed that the Security Service had contacted the Moroccan authorities and informed them about the applicant before his expulsion. It transpires from their decisions that they reached their conclusions without having this essential information which the Court now has before it (see paragraphs 11 and 15 ). In view of this, the Court found that it cannot rely on the Migration Agency and the Migration Court of Appeal’s findings and conclusions in this respect. Moreover, the Court observed that, not only is the Security Service the authority which undertook the security assessment of the applicant, but it is also responsible for the enforcement of the expulsion order against the applicant and, as acknowledged by the Government, it is the authority which will also escort the applicant back and hand him over to the Moroccan authorities. These various roles notwithstanding, and despite having acknowledged the risk of ill-treatment during detention of suspected terrorists in Morocco, the Government have stated that they see no reason to take special measures to ensure that the applicant, once expelled from Sweden, would not be subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. In view of the above, the Court found that the Government have failed to dispel the doubts raised by the applicant. On the contrary, the Court considered that the circumstance that the migration authorities appear not to have received all relevant and important information to make their decision raises concern as to the rigour and reliability of the domestic proceedings. Moreover, having regard to the efforts made by the Moroccan authorities to improve the human rights situation in the country over several years, the Court noted that no assurances by the Moroccan authorities relating to the treatment of the applicant upon return, or if he were to be detained, access to him by Swedish diplomats, have so far been obtained in order to help eliminate, or at least substantially reduce, the risk of the applicant being subjected to ill-treatment once returned to his home country. Consequently, in the present circumstances, the applicant’s expulsion to Morocco would involve a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
ECHR Press Release
Council of Europe,CoE: European Court of Human Rights [ECHR], X. (Morocco) vs Sweden, 09/01/2018, ECLI:CE:ECHR:2018:0109JUD003641716ECHR rules on return of rejected asylum seeker to Morocco