The European court ordered Italy to pay a total of €27,000 to the Sudanese migrants in a case going back to 2016.
The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy on Thursday for its treatment of a group of Sudanese migrants who were forced to strip in front of other asylum seekers and subjected to distressing and humiliating practices.
The ECHR was ruling in two cases brought against Italy by nine Sudanese citizens who arrived in the country by sea in the summer of 2016 – the height of the so-called European migrant crisis – and were removed or threatened with being removed. The first group – including four of the plaintiffs – arrived in the country by boat, while the second – made up of five migrants – was rescued by the Italian navy from the sea.
The court backed the claims of the first case only, brought forward by four migrants who said they were forced to strip naked in front of other migrants in order to undergo a medical examination after being arrested by Italian authorities. They said they were left naked for about ten minutes, without any privacy.
The ECHR ruled in support of the migrants, finding that this procedure went beyond what could be deemed necessary and legitimate.
The group of Sudanese migrants also said that they were forced to endure long bus rides during the hottest time of the year, without being given sufficient water and food and without an explanation of where they were headed or why. According to the ECHR, the migrants were kept under constant police surveillance in a climate of violence and threats.
The seven ECHR judges unanimously agreed that the migrants were treated in a way that was both distressing and humiliating and concluded that Italy violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court ordered the country to pay the four Sudanese nationals a total of €27,000 for moral damages and €4,000 for costs and expenses.
The four migrants who brought forward the first case – all born between 1980 and 1994 – have since been granted international protection on the basis of their personal history and consequences for their lives if returned. They no longer run the risk of being deported. Three live in Turin and one in Germany.
The ECHR also found that one of the NINE migrants was beaten during another removal attempt, noting that no investigation had been conducted into this incident – another violation of Article 3.
The other five plaintiffs were part of a group of 40 migrants who said they were expelled from Italy soon after arriving. The complaints of four of the five plaintiffs in the second case were found by the court to be not sufficiently substantiated and the court found that Italy did not violate Article 3 in their treatment.