This week, the Migration Law Clinic and the Legal Clinic on Human Rights and Migration Law of the International University College of Turin together submitted a third party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of H.A. v Italy (Appl no 26049/18). The case concerns a Tunisian national, who reached the Italian coast on 17 October 2017 on board of a rudimentary vessel. He was transferred to the hotspot of Lampedusa, where he stayed for approximately 24 days. After his release he tried to cross the border to France. However he was apprehended and handed over to the Italian authorities, who transferred him by bus from Ventimiglia to the hotspot of Taranto (more than 1000 kilometers south). From there, he was transferred to the pre-removal detention centre (CPR) of Bari, from which he was expelled to Tunisia.
The third party intervention argues that Italy has violated Article 5(1), (2) and (4) of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). It has detained the applicant in the hotspot of Lampedusa and from the moment he was handed over to them by the French authorities until after the applicant’s arrival in the Taranto hotspot, without a legal ground, without informing him of the reasons for the detention and without offering a legal remedy. Moreover, the third party intervention shows that the detention conditions in the Lampedusa hotspot were poor and that the remedy available against the detention in the CPR in Bari has serious procedural shortcomings. This may lead to a violation of Article 3 ECHR and 5(4) ECHR respectively.
The third party intervention was the result of a unique cooperation between students of the Migration Law Clinic and the Legal Clinic on Human Rights and Migration Law of the International University College of Turin. Under very high time pressure, they managed to do research together and learn from each other. According to Marcelle Reneman, the coordinator of the Migration Law Clinic, this could be the beginning of more international cooperation between migration and refugee law clinics in Europe.