Italian Court Stops Expulsion of Romani Family to Bosnia and Herzegovina

28 May 2004

On January 8, 2004, Rome's Civil Court issued two decisions declaring void the expulsion decrees issued by Italian immigration authorities for Mr Nedeljko Sulejmanović and his wife Ms Mehida Seferović. Italian authorities had earlier issued decrees to expel Mr Sulejmanović and Ms Seferović to Bosnia and Herzegovina and placed Ms Seferović in custody at the Ponte Galaria Immigration Centre, separating her from her four small children. Attorneys Piero Paoletti and Ms Alessandra Mari appealed the expulsion decrees, prompting the decisions of Rome's Civil Court. In its decisions, the Court quoted the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case Čonka v Belgium, in which the Court found a violation of Article 4 of Protocol 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the March 2002 admissibility decision of the ECHR in the case Sulejmanović v. Italy, in which the court agreed to consider the applicants' complaints arising under Article 3 (prohibition of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 4 of Protocol 4, Article 8 (right to privacy and family life) and Article 13 (requirement of an effective remedy) of the Convention. Rome's Civil Court found that the principle of non-refoulement - the ban on the return of persons to countries of origin if they may face serious harm there - precluded Italian authorities from expelling the appellants to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Further information on the human rights situation of Roma in Italy is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://errc.org/publications/indices/italy.shtml(ERRC)

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