27 March 2020

European Court of Human Rights on the situation in the European Hotspot 'Vial' and the Corona Virus

In a recent interim measures proceeding, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Greek Authorities to provide adequate healthcare to a severely vulnerable applicant living in the Vial Hotspot. The applicant has a pre-existing illness and is particularly vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. He has been trying to see a doctor for months now, but has not been able to. For him, the conditions in Vial amount to degrading or inhumane treatment in the sense of Article 3 ECHR and put him at a real risk of dying (violating the right to life, Art 2 ECHR). The Court agreed that the State must provide him with adequate medical care, which cannot be provided in a crowded camp. During these times, when we are all practicing social distancing, asylum seekers on the Greek islands are crammed into camps – making any measures taken to protect the rest of the population on the islands an illusion.

The question the court then addressed to the Greek government is particularly important: it asked Greece to explain “which measures have been taken or are planned to be put in place at the hotspots in relation to the COVID-19 risk, in particular for vulnerable people like the applicant?” This clearly shows that the Court doubts that Greece has taken adequate steps to protect people from the virus.

The applicant must now be immediately evacuated from the Vial Hotspot. And so must everyone else who is crowded inside. Otherwise the situation will result in a catastrophe.

Find the decision here.

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