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  • Writer's pictureHRLP Board

Interim measures granted by the ECtHR for a woman and her daughter on Samos

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

On the 2nd year anniversary of the Samos CCAC, HRLP filed a request for interim measures in front of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on behalf of Z.H., a survivor of SGBV and S.T.H., and her 6 months old daughter who has a congenital heart disease. HRLP argued that given the applicants' vulnerabilities, by illegally detaining them inside the CCAC, the Greek authorities were subjecting them to inhumane and degrading treatment.


Today, the ECHR granted the interim measures and indicated to the government of Greece to ensure that the second applicant be provided with appropriate medical care and that both applicants should be ensured adequate living conditions, taking into account their extreme vulnerability.


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Z.H., a national of Benin, and her 6 months-old daughter (S.T.H.), born in Turkey, arrived on the island of Samos, in Greece, on 16.08.2023. Z.H. is a survivor of sexual and gender-based violence. She managed to escape her country while being pregnant with S.T.H. After her birth in Turkey, S.T.H. underwent two important surgeries, one on the heart (for a congenital heart disease) and one on the stomach. S.T.H. still needs medical assistance and surveillance for her heart and stomach condition. All children and adults who have congenital heart defects need regular follow-up care from a cardiologist throughout their life.


Upon arrival on Samos, Z.H. and S.T.H. were assisted by the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who asked for their immediate transfer to the General Hospital of Vathy (Samos). In the hospital, Z.H. was informed that they should be transferred to Athens, in order for S.T.H. to receive proper medical care. Instead of this, Z.H. and S.T.H. were taken to Samos Closed Control Access Camp (C.C.A.C.) where they have been de facto detained since. On 18.09.2023, 29 days after their arrival, Z.H. and S.T.H. 's application for international protection had not been registered yet.


The current situation in Samos C.C.A.C. has been described as a humanitarian crisis due to the lack of medical services inside the premises, the water shortages, the insufficient food, the sanitary conditions and the lack of dedicated facilities for vulnerable asylum-seekers. [For more information about the situation in Samos C.C.A.C. you can read the joint statement published by HRLP and 21 other NGOs].


Considering S.T.H.’s medical needs and both applicants’ vulnerability, HRLP’s lawyers took several steps to speed up the registration procedure for Z.H. and her daughter and to ensure that S.T.H. would have access to medical care.

  • On three occasions, HRLP's lawyers alerted the Greek authorities to the situation, requesting that the applicants be given access to medical care and that the international application be registered.

  • HRLP's lawyers wrote to the Hellenic National Commission for Human Rights to raise the issue of the de facto detention to which the applicants were being subjected.

  • HRLP’s lawyers submitted a report to the Greek Ombudsman, requesting a site visit to the C.C.A.C., denouncing the illegal detention of 9 asylum seekers awaiting registration, the inhumane and degrading conditions inside the facilities and specifically mentioning the two applicants and their extreme vulnerability .


In the absence of a reaction from the authorities and given the critical situation of the applicants, on 18 September, 2023 HRLP’s lawyers submitted a request for interim measures to the European Court of Human Rights based on Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court. The interim measures were granted on 19 September 2023. The Court decided "in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, to indicate to the Government of Greece, under Rule 39, that the second applicant should be provided with appropriate medical care and the applicants should be ensured adequate living conditions, taken into account their extreme vulnerability”.


HRLP’s team members are very happy with the decision of the Court. Since this decision, Z.H. and S.T.H.'s asylum applications have been registered and they have been granted the right to move freely throughout Greece. We are following-up with the legal representatives of the Greek government in order to make sure that they are quickly transferred to adequate facilities and that S.T.H. will receive the medical care she needs.


While the Court’s decision sets an important precedent, we remain extremely concerned about the current situation in the Samos CCAC.

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