Press release issued by the Registrar

Application lodged with the Court Ramzy v. the Netherlands

http://www.echr.coe.int/Eng/Press/2005/Oct/
ApplicationlodgedRamzyvNetherlands.htm , 20.10.2005

A case concerning the removal to Algeria of a person suspected of involvement in an Islamic extremist group in the Netherlands has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights.

The applicant in the case Ramzy v. the Netherlands (application no 25424/05) complains under Article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights that, if removed to Algeria, he will be exposed to a real risk of torture or ill-treatment at the hands of the Algerian authorities.

On 15 July 2005 [1] the Acting President of the Section of the Court dealing with the case decided to indicate to the Netherlands Government – under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court – that the applicant should not be removed to Algeria while the case was before the European Court. The Acting President also decided to ask the Netherlands Government to submit their observations on the admissibility and merits of the case.

Leave to intervene as a third party in the Court’s proceedings has also been granted to: the Governments of Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and the United Kingdom and the non-governmental organisations the AIRE Centre, Interights (also on behalf of Amnesty International Ltd, the Association for the Prevention of Torture, Human Rights Watch, The International Commission of Jurists, Open Society Justice Initiative and Redress), Justice and Liberty.

The applicant claims to be Mohammed Ramzy, an Algerian national who was born in 1982. He resides in the Netherlands, where he is known to the authorities under that name and ten other names. He was arrested in the Netherlands on 12 June 2002 on suspicion of involvement in an Islamic extremist network active in the Netherlands, linked to the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat; “GSPC”). The network’s main activities are considered to be: aiding and abetting people who have actively participated in the holy war (“jihad”), forgery of identity papers, the recruitment and preparation of young men in the Netherlands for active participation in the holy war, and drugs trafficking for the purposes of financing its activities. The suspicions concerning the applicant were based on official reports drawn up on 22 and 24 April 2002 by the Netherlands intelligence and security authorities.


The applicant was subsequently formally charged and summoned to appear before Rotterdam Regional Court to stand trial. On 5 June 2003, following trial proceedings, which attracted considerable media attention, the court acquitted the applicant of all charges and ordered his release from pre-trial detention. It held that the reports relied on by the prosecution could not be used in evidence. As the intelligence officials had refused to give evidence about the origins of the information set out in the intelligence reports, relying on their statutory obligation to observe secrecy, and as the competent Ministers had not released them from that obligation, the defence had not been given the opportunity to verify in an effective manner the origins and accuracy of the information in the reports. The prosecution initially filed an appeal against that judgment, but withdrew it on 6 September 2005, before the trial proceedings on appeal had started.

Immediately after his release on 5 June 2003, the applicant was apprehended by the aliens’ police and placed in aliens’ detention for expulsion purposes. On the same day, he applied for asylum, claiming that he risked being subjected to torture and/or ill-treatment in Algeria. His asylum request was eventually rejected in a final decision taken by the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State on 6 July 2005.

On 21 July 2003, under Article 59 § 4 of the Netherlands 2000 Aliens Act, the applicant was released from aliens’ detention, as no decision had been taken by the Minister for Immigration and Integration on his asylum request within 42 days. On 15 July 2004, he was again placed in aliens’ detention in the Netherlands pending his expulsion.

On 14 September 2004, the Minister for Immigration and Integration had issued an exclusion order against the applicant. The Minister held that the applicant was posing a threat to national security and that the issuance of this exclusion order was in the interests of the Netherlands international relations. On 31 August 2005, the Minister rejected the applicant’s objection to the decision. The applicant’s appeal against the decision of 31 August 2005 is currently pending before the Regional Court of The Hague.

On 15 September 2005, he was released from aliens’ detention, under a ruling that day from the Regional Court of The Hague, who found the applicant’s continued placement in aliens’ detention to be unlawful, in that there were no prospects for his removal from the Netherlands within a reasonable time.

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The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe Member States in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1 November 1998 it has sat as a full-time Court composed of an equal number of judges to that of the States party to the Convention. The Court examines the admissibility and merits of applications submitted to it. It sits in Chambers of 7 judges or, in exceptional cases, as a Grand Chamber of 17 judges. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments.

 

 
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