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Khlaifia and Others v. Italy

  • Jill I. Goldenziel (a1)
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In Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber or Court) released a landmark opinion with broad implications for how states must respect the individual rights of migrants. In the judgment, issued on December 15, 2016, the Court held that Italy's treatment of migrants after the Arab Spring violated the requirement of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that migrants receive procedural guarantees that enable them to challenge their detention and expulsion. The Court also held that Italy's treatment of migrants in detention centers did not violate the ECHR's prohibition on cruel and inhuman treatment, in part due to the emergency circumstances involved. The Court further held that Italy's return of migrants to Tunisia did not violate the prohibition on collective expulsion in Article 4 of Protocol 4 of the ECHR. Enforcement of the judgment would require many European states to provide a clear basis in domestic law for the detention of migrants and asylum-seekers. Given the global diffusion of state practices involving migrants, and other states’ desires to restrict migration, this case has broad implications for delineating the obligations of states to migrants and the rights of migrants within receiving countries.

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1 Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, App. No. 16483/12 (Eur. Ct. H.R. Dec. 15, 2016). Judgments of the Court cited herein are available at its website, http://hudoc.echr.coe.int.

2 Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, App. No. 16483/12 (Eur. Ct. H.R. Sept. 1, 2015).

3 M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, 2011-I Eur. Ct. H.R. 255 (2011); Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy, 2012-II Eur. Ct. H.R. 97 (2012).

4 Hirsi Jamaa, supra note 3.

5 See Amnesty International, Italy: Beatings and Unlawful Expulsions Amid EU Push to Get Tough on Refugees and Migrants (Nov. 3, 2016), at https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/11/italy-beatings-and-unlawful-expulsions-amid-eu-push-to-get-tough-on-refugees-and-migrants; European Council on Refugees and Exiles, The Implementation of the Hotspot Approach in Italy and Greece: A Study (2016), available at https://www.ecre.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/HOTSPOTS-Report-5.12.2016..pdf.

6 Darren Neville, Sarah Sy & Amalia Rigon, On the Frontline: The Hotspot Approach to Managing Migration, European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies 29 (2016), available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/556942/IPOL_STU%282016%29556942_EN.pdf.

7 Saadi v. Italy, 2008-II Eur. Ct. H.R. 207 (2008); Chahal v. United Kingdom, 23 Eur. H.R. Rep. 413 (1996) (previously affirming the inviolability of Article 3).

* Views expressed here are those of the author, and do not reflect those of Marine Corps University, the U.S. Department of Defense, or any other U.S. government agency.

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American Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0002-9300
  • EISSN: 2161-7953
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law
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