The Seimas Ombudsperson’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania has received a complaint from Nigerian citizens regarding the actions of state authorities that may have violated the applicants’ for international protection right to an effective examination of their application for international protection, the right not to be returned to their country of origin, the right to life, the right to be protected from torture, the right to a fair trial and effective measures of appeal, the right to work, and the right to be protected from discrimination.
The Nigerians have also taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights, where their complaint is currently being examined under the preliminary procedure. Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which lays down the obligation to provide effective access to appeal, applies to all administrative acts. The complaint alleges that the foreigners were not provided with effective safeguards to protect them from unauthorised expulsion and were forcibly returned to their country of origin. The notion of an effective legal remedy requires the possibility of independently verifying whether there is a real risk of a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, taking into account the irreversibility of such acts. In Gebremedhin v France, the ECtHR stated that an effective remedy must provide for the automatic suspension of expulsion measures in cases where the applicant complains of a risk under Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition of torture) of the Convention.
In their subsequent asylum applications, the foreigners submitted arguments and evidence that they face a genuine individual threat to their lives and that this threat prevents them from returning to their country of origin, in the light of the circumstances they have indicated and which are supported by the available information on their country of origin. The foreigners stated that they were denied legal aid, the opportunity to submit evidence and additional explanations during the examination of their initial asylum applications. When deciding on the granting of subsidiary protection, the institutions failed to collect and assess the situation in the country of origin, which has changed since the first asylum application in 2021. Additional circumstances, such as the murder and persecution of family members and persons in the same situation as the applicants, were also not assessed. The cumulative effect of restrictions in the country of origin was also not taken into account. Subsequent asylum applications requested a re-examination of the need for their return to their country of origin under Article 128 of the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens, taking into account their employment and social ties in Lithuania.
On 14 December 2022 the applicants were deported to their country of origin without the possibility to appeal within 7 days against the Migration Department’s decision not to grant asylum (refugee status and subsidiary protection), which was taken immediately before the deportation. The applicants had no effective remedy to defend themselves against forced deportation.
The petition was submitted by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute in cooperation with the law firm ReLex as part of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute’s strategic litigation programme. The programme aims to provide a judicial assessment of the fundamental deficiencies in the application of the law in Lithuania’s migration and asylum system and to correct the flawed practices of the institutions.
The programme is part of the project “Crossing the border: monitoring and advocating for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers”, supported by the Active Citizens Foundation.