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Chahal v. The U.K ., (22414/93) [1996] ECHR 54 (15 November 1996)

Facts: the applicant is a Sikh who illegally entered the United Kingdom but his stay in the UK was later regularized under a general amnesty for illegal entrants. He had been politically active in the Sikh community in the UK and played an important role in the foundation and organization of the International Sikh Youth Federation.   He was arrested but not convicted for conspiracy to kill the then Indian Prime Minister, and was later convicted for assault and affray but the conviction was set aside. A deportation order was issued because of his political activities and the criminal investigations taken against him, and was detained until the ruling of the ECHR.

Complaint: the applicant claimed that his deportation to India would result in a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment which would violate article 3 of the European Convention. He also claimed a violation of his right to freedom of liberty guaranteed by article 5.

Holding: the ECHR found a violation of article 3 and article 54 and 13, but no violation of article 51.

Reasoning: Article 3 contained a guarantee which is absolute in expulsion cases so the UK could not rely on its national security interest to justify the deportation of the applicant. The applicant would face a real risk of ill treatment if deported to India. No violation of article 51 was found since the decision was important and could not be taken hastily.   The assertion of a national security interest should not free national authorities from effective control by national courts so the proceedings in the English courts did not meet the requirements of Article 5(4).


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