ECHR Rules Poland Violated Rights of Asylum Seekers

By: Cynthia Achieng

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

 STRASBOURG, France – On Thursday, April 4, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland, in its expulsion of four Tajikistani nationals back to Ukraine, had violated Articles 3, 4, and 13 of Protocol No. 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Refugees crossing into Poland from Ukraine. | Photo courtesy of Al-Jazeera.

The individuals traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border on at least four occasions between 2016-2017. On each occasion, they expressly stated their wish to apply for international protection stating that they were at risk of political persecution in Tajikistan. Administrative decisions were issued denying them entry into Poland on grounds that they did not have documentation to support their claim of risk of persecution.

The ECHR noted that sending the applicants to Ukraine without examining whether the receiving State was safe for them, whether they would have adequate asylum procedure there, or whether they would be exposed to the risk of a chain of refoulement was a violation of the procedural limb of Article 3 of the Convention. The action of the Polish officials amounted to expulsion of aliens which is a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.

The Court further awarded the applicants damages in the amount of EUR 13,000 each against Poland.

This decision comes at a time when the refugee crisis is hitting Europe and applications for asylum especially from Ukrainian and Syrian refugees are multiplying.

For further information, please see:


EDAL – Communicated Cases against Poland (Application No. 54029/17), the Netherlands, and Russia – 22 Jan. 2021

Case of SHEROV and Others V. PolandIUS INFO – Case of SHEROV and Others V. Poland – ND


ECHR Rules Russian Removal of North Korean Citizens to the DPRK Violated European Convention of Human Rights

By: Garrison Funk

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

STRASBOURG, France – On Tuesday, March 19, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the Russian Federation violated Articles 2, 3, and 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights in its treatment, and later expulsion, of three North Korean citizens to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin meet in Vladivostok, Russia in April 2019. | Photo Credit Alexy Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images.

While Russia has not been a member of the European Convention since September 16, 2020, the relevant events took place prior to Russia’s separation, therefore granting the ECHR jurisdiction to review the case.

Two of the individuals in the case, referred to as K.J. and C.C., were captured in Russian territorial waters and convicted of illegal fishing in 2019, and sentenced to serve two years and one month in Russian prison. The third individual, S.K., was a student studying at the Far Eastern Federal university in Vladivostok, who later applied for asylum in 2020.

After finishing their prison terms, K.J. and C.C. were both detained for two more years pending expulsion to the DPRK, before finally being released again in 2022. In particular, the ECHR noted that Russian authorities took no steps to verify the reason for their detention. Additionally, foreign nationals detained in Russia pending an expulsion are unable to have their detention reviewed by Russian courts, thereby finding violations of Article 5 § 1 and Article 5 § 4 of the Convention.

Following S.K.’s asylum application in 2020, he was detained by Russian police before being handed over to DPRK consular staff by the Russian Federal Security Service. The same day, the ECHR issued an interim ruling barring the Russian government from expelling S.K. However, S.K. has not been heard from since then. Because of the high risk of torture and failure of the Russian court system to provide an adequate remedy to detainees, the ECHR found that this expulsion constituted violations of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture), as it is presumed S.K. was abducted.

This is not the first instance of North Korean citizens attempting to gain refuge in Russia. Many North Koreans study in Vladivostok, often under the watchful eye of DPRK surveillance, and some attempt to escape to pursue their freedom. However, Russian security forces often assist the DPRK in the return of its citizens despite repeated admonishment from the ECHR and international community. Only a small fraction of the hundreds of North Korean refugees had their applications accepted.  

For more information, please see:

ECHR – Missing Student Risks Torture if Returned to North Korea – Mar. 19, 2024

ECHR – Judgment Concerning the Russian Federation – Mar. 19, 2024

Human Rights Watch – North Koreans Face Repatriation From Russia – Feb. 17, 2022

Crossing Borders – Why North Koreans Don’t Escape to Russia Instead of China – Oct. 16, 2021

Reuters – Russia Wants North Korea’s Money, Not Its Refugees – Jan. 25, 2017

Historic Election in Senegal Sees Youngest President in Country’s History

By: D’Andre Gordon

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Dakar, Senegal — In a historic turn of events, Senegal welcomed Bassirou Diomaye Faye as its newly inaugurated president, marking a significant transition from incarceration to leadership. This remarkable journey from the confines of a prison cell to the presidential palace underscores a profound narrative of resistance and democratic revival, highlighted in recent reports from AP News​​. Faye is the youngest president in Senegalese history. 

President Faye speaking before a crowd during his inauguration. | Photo Courtesy of AP News.

Faye’s ascent to the presidency is emblematic of a broader struggle against systemic injustices and the remnants of colonial exploitation. Released from prison alongside Ousmane Sonko, his mentor and a prominent opposition figure, just before the elections, Faye’s victory is a testament to the unyielding spirit of the Senegalese people and their quest for genuine democratic governance.

Faye’s commitment to eradicating corruption and ensuring equitable management of Senegal’s resources resonates with the aspirations of the youth, who have long been disillusioned by rampant unemployment and the neocolonial dynamics that have perpetuated economic disparities. His election represents a rejection of exploitative practices and a collective yearning for a governance model that prioritizes the welfare of its citizens over foreign interests, as detailed in the AP News report​​.

Echoing the themes of transparency and accountability, Faye’s decision to publicly declare his assets prior to the election serves as a powerful statement against the opaqueness that has marred political institutions. It is a step towards dismantling the structures of power that have historically marginalized the voices of the ordinary citizen in favor of a privileged few, reflecting a call for greater integrity in governance​​.

As Faye assumes Office, the composition of his government will be scrutinized as a reflection of his commitment to breaking with past practices and embodying the change that the Senegalese electorate has ardently yearned for. The challenges ahead are manifold, but the message is clear: the era of impunity and governance that serves the interests of a select few is over.

This momentous occasion in Senegal’s political landscape is not merely about a change in leadership but a profound shift towards a future where governance is characterized by integrity, inclusivity, and respect for the sovereign will of the people. It is a beacon of hope for not just Senegal, but for nations across the continent and beyond, grappling with the vestiges of imperialism and striving for a democratic ethos that truly reflects the aspirations of its people.

Senegal’s story, with Faye at the helm, offers a blueprint for a new kind of leadership – one that is rooted in the principles of justice, equity, and the unwavering belief in the power of the people to chart their own destiny. It is a clarion call for an era of governance that transcends the shadow of colonial legacies and paves the way for a future where every citizen has a stake in their nation’s prosperity, inspired by the details shared in the AP News article.

For further information, please see:

AP News – Senegal Swears in Former Opposition Figure, Recently Freed from Prison, as New President – Apr. 2, 2024

AP News – Senegal’s President-Elect Pledges to Fight Corruption After a Stunning Victory for the 44-Year-Old – Mar. 26, 2024

The Guardian – Bassirou Diomaye Faye sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president – Apr. 2, 2024

ECHR Rule Change Bolsters United Kingdom Plan to Relocate Migrants to Rwanda

By: Terrence Kane

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

ROME, Italy – A rule-change in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has bolstered the United Kingdom’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. The rule change will raise the threshold required by courts to place an injunction on removal proceedings.

Flight from the United Kingdom to Rwanda grounded amid legal challenges to the removal plan. | Photo Courtesy of BBC.

The Rule Change

The ECHR first announced that it would amend its rules in November of 2023. The changes were sought to bring the rules on interim measures more in alignment with the Court’s established case law. The change involved Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, which are regarding the procedures on interim measures.

The language of Rule 39 was amended to include the line “imminent risk of irreparable harm” which has raised the threshold to institute interim measures, such as injunction. The amended rule language was announced on February 23, 2024, and went into effect a little over a month later on March 28.

While the rule change wasn’t in reference to any particular case or controversy, it is likely to have a very specific impact on the removal processes of the United Kingdom.

Effect on United Kingdom’s Removal Process

Under its current leadership, the United Kingdom has pursued a program of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda where the asylum seekers are meant to remain until their cases have been properly adjudicated in UK courts. The plan faced a major obstacle when the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled that the policy violated international human rights law.

The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals decision that found that the planned removals were unlawful because it lacked proper safeguards to prevent refoulement, or the return of asylum seekers to their state of origin. The Supreme Court held that the removals posed a safety risk to the asylum seekers because the United Kingdom failed to establish that Rwanda was a safe nation. The Court stated there were “substantial grounds” to believe sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would cause them to be unsafe.

The analysis used by the Supreme Court in putting the deportations on hold is likely to be substantially altered as a result of the new language in Rule 39. Rather than simply finding “substantial grounds” of safety risks, courts like those in the UK that put the Rwanda plan on hold, will need to look for evidence that there is an “imminent risk of irreparable harm.” This new standard will make it substantially harder to challenge the Rwanda plan and reduce courts ability to issue injunctive relief.

For further information, please see:

BBC – Supreme Court rules Rwanda asylum policy unlawful – November 15, 2023

The Telegraph – Boost for Rwanda plan as ECHR makes it harder to block deportations – March 28, 2024

Reuters – UK plan to deport refugees to Rwanda to be delayed after new parliamentary defeats – March 20, 2024

ICJ – Press Release – March 28, 2024

ICJ – Rules of Court – March 28, 2024


IACHR Rules Peru’s Failure to Monitor Metal Refinery Violates Citizens’ Rights to a Healthy Environment

By: Jacob Riederer

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

San Jose, Costa Rica – On March 22, 2024, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued a ruling declaring that the Peruvian government’s lack of supervision and oversight of a metal refinery in the city of La Oroyoa led to violations of human rights of citizens, including the right to a healthy environment.  

Smelting and refining of Metals at CLMO have made La Oroya one of the most polluted cities in the world. | Photo courtesy of TIME/Matthew Burpee.

La Oroya, located about 50 miles northeast of Lima in Central Peru, has a population of 33,000.  Complejo Metalúrgico de La Oroya (CMLO), the refinery in question, has operated in that region for more than 100 years. During this time, it has refined metals with high concentrations of copper, zinc, and arsenic, among other compounds. It is currently a private company, although it was previously controlled and operated by Peruvian officials. 

CMLO has generated significant pollution. In the past, La Oroya was one of the most polluted cities in the world in large part because of the refinery. Presently, air pollution levels in the city far exceed environmental guidelines required by Peruvian law. 

The current case was brought against the Government of Peru by 80 residents of La Oroya, who have suffered the harmful effects of CMLO’s pollution. CMLO’s actions have exposed residents to chemicals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and sulfur dioxide. As a result, many people in La Oroya have developed respiratory, heart, skin, and psychological conditions.

In its ruling, the IACHR held Peru responsible for violating the right to a healthy environment by failing to properly monitor and regulate CMLO.  Other violations included the right to a dignified life and personal integrity because of this pollution, which has significantly affected the quality of life of its victims who are plagued by disease. The Court also noted the government’s failure to provide adequate health care to citizens affected by the refinery’s pollution. 

In response to the violations the court ordered the following: the Government of Peru must 1) conduct tests to determine how polluted the air, water, and soil are in La Oroya are and create a plan for remediation; 2) provide specialized medical care at no cost to the victims; 3) improve air quality standsa; 4) develop a monitoring system for air, water and soil pollution; and 5) award damages to victims and their families.

For further information, please see:

IACHR – Comunicado de Prensa, Caso de Habitantes de La Oroya vs. Peru – 24 MAR 2024

IACHR – Sentencia, Caso de Habitantes de La Oroya vs. Peru27 Nov 2023

Inside Climate News – International Court Issues First-Ever Decision Enforcing the Right to a Healthy Environment – 29 Mar 2029

TIME – T he World’s Most Polluted Places, La Oroya Peru – 2007

La Republica – Peru Is Responsible for the Pollution in La Oroya – 22 Mar 2024

Yahoo News – Rights Court Condemns Peru Over One of world’s Most Polluted Towns – 22 Mar 2024