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Croatia Violated Rights of Stateless Person, European Court Rules

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Croatia to pay compensation for violating the rights of a stateless man who was expelled from the country after the security service deemed him a national security threat.

The European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, ruled on Tuesday that Croatia violated the rights of a man identified only by the initials F.S. when he was expelled from the country without being given the reasons for the decision.

The court also ruled that the Croatia should pay him 5,000 euros in and a further 5,000 euros for costs and expenses.

F.S. was born in 1991 in Rome and was a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina. His problems began in 1998 when he sought refuge in Croatia.

He has family ties with Croatian citizens – his sister, grandfather and two aunts – and in 2008, he was granted permanent residence in Croatia.

F.S. applied for Croatian citizenship in 2011, and the Interior Ministry of the Interior issued him a guarantee of receiving it on the condition that he renounced his Bosnian citizenship within two years.

By applying in 2013, he renounced his Bosnian citizenship, thereby becoming a stateless person. When he applied for Croatian citizenship, he became the subject of surveillance under the Security Check Act.

F.S. was summoned to the Zagreb Police Department in 2014 and met an agent identified only as B. According to F.S., B. allegedly sought his cooperation in providing information about the Muslim community. F.S. refused for religious and moral reasons.

In 2015, the Security Agency submitted a classified document to the Interior Ministry stating that F.S. should be expelled from Croatia because he represented a threat to national security.

Based on that document, in February 2015, the police ordered his expulsion and prohibited him from re-entering the country for one year. His appeal against that decision was rejected.

In March 2015, the police revoked the applicant’s permanent residence in Croatia and ordered him to leave Croatia within 30 days.

In October 2015, F.S. was arrested while trying to cross the border from Croatia to Slovenia illegally. The police handed him a new deportation order and said he was to be detained at the Jezevo Immigration Centre for six months.

The applicant claims that the Jezevo Immigration Centre was overcrowded during his stay and that even temporary tents were erected outside due to the large numbers of migrants arriving.

“As regards his expulsion from Croatia, it would appear that for a certain period of time the applicant could not be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina because he was no longer a national of that country. However, on an unspecified date his Bosnian-Herzegovinian citizenship was restored and he left Croatia voluntarily on 23 July 2016,” the ECHR judgment said.

F.S. also appealed to the ECHR about the legality of his detention and the conditions at the Jezevo Immigration Center, but the court noted that he never filed a complaint about either of these issues. As a result, the ECHR concluded that F.S. did not exhaust all possible legal remedies in Croatia.

Source : Balkan Insight