Samos, 18 January 2024 – Today, in the case of T.K. v. Greece (Application No. 16112/20), the European Court of Human Rights delivered a decisive verdict, condemning the treatment of an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child on the Greek island of Samos. The Court found that the wrong registration of the applicant as an adult and the failure to correct his age in due time, violated his rights to respect for his private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Moreover, the Court reaffirmed that the living conditions of the applicant amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment, a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR.
T.K., who was a minor when he arrived on Samos in October 2019, faced intentional mis-registration by authorities, resulting in his wrongful classification as an adult. Despite providing official documentation from Sierra Leone, the correction of his birthdate took over 15 months, during which he endured harsh conditions without the protections he was entitled to as a child.
In addition to the age-related violations, the Court noted severe deficiencies in the living conditions of the applicant. After arriving on Samos, the applicant faced a lack of assistance from the authorities, leading to him sleeping in the “jungle” without proper shelter. The unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the makeshift camp, coupled with the applicant’s mental health issues resulting from the age registration error, further compounded the violation of his human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights, echoing its previous condemnations of living conditions on Samos (A.D. v. Greece, M.L. v. Greece and M.B. v. Greece), highlighted the systemic failures in the treatment of asylum seekers.
As detailed by Ella Dodd, Advocacy and Strategy Coordinator at I Have Rights:
“Despite the growing number of rulings from the Strasbourg court, Greece continues to confine asylum seekers to Samos, with the newly opened EU-funded Samos Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC), criticised for its securitised and degrading environment”.
With the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, I Have Rights warns that the proposed reforms may perpetuate inhumane conditions throughout Europe. The judgments in T.K. v. Greece join a series of cases denouncing the treatment of asylum seekers in Greek “hotspots,” underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive and humane migration policies.
The legal representation for T.K. v. Greece was provided by the Refugee Law Clinic Berlin (Germany), supported by I Have Rights (Samos).