Case summary by ELENA Weekly Legal Update, 30 June 2017
On 22 June 2017, the ECtHR notified its decision in case E.T. and N.T. v. Switzerland and Italy (no. 79480/13), which concerned the return from Switzerland to Italy of a Eritrean woman and her child who had been granted refugee status in Italy. The applicants were living in appalling conditions in Italy since they were successively put on waiting lists for accommodation. They ended up sleeping in the streets and train stations before seeking appropriate conditions in Switzerland, the applicant being pregnant at that time. The Swiss authorities rejected their asylum claims since the applicants had already been granted protection status in Italy and could be expected to seek and find housing in other regions of Italy. However, the applicants complained before the ECtHR that the return to Italy would violate their rights under Articles 3, 8 and 13 of the Convention, in view of their previous experiences in Italy and the lack of assurances that they would find appropriate reception conditions upon return.
The ECtHR relied on the letters sent by SPRAR (the Italian office of the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) which specified that a NGO in the municipality of Sezze had accepted to accommodate the applicants in appropriate structures, and that this was enough to guarantee a reserved place in the facility. Therefore, the ECtHR considered the complaints manifestly ill-founded.