Application no. 56726/00
by Ibrahim BARI
The European Court of Human Rights, sitting on 5 March 2002 as a Chamber composed of
Sir Nicolas Bratza, President,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr A. Pastor Ridruejo,
Mrs E. Palm,
Mr M. Fischbach,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr S. Pavlovschi, judges,
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 9 April 2000,
Having regard to the interim measure indicated to the respondent Government under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ibrahim Bari, is a national of Sierra Leone, who was born in 1967 and lives in Sweden. He was represented before the Court by Ms E. L. Sederholm, a lawyer practising in Stockholm. The respondent Government were represented by Ms I. Kalmerborn, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant came to Sweden on 2 November 1996 and applied for asylum. He claimed that, if returned to Sierra Leone, his life would be at risk because of his alleged membership of and activities for the rebel movement Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Allegedly, both the Government authorities and the RUF know him by name and rank and have been looking for him after his escape from Sierra Leone.
The National Immigration Board (Statens invandrarverk) and, upon appeal, the Aliens Appeals Board (Utlänningsnämnden) rejected the application on 20 December 1996 and 6 October 1998, respectively. The Appeals Board questioned the applicant’s credibility and found that the general conditions in Sierra Leone did not constitute an obstacle for his being returned there.
By a judgment of 28 October 1998 the District Court (tingsrätten) of Stockholm found the applicant guilty of narcotics offences and sentenced him to seven months’ imprisonment to be followed by expulsion from Sweden with a five year prohibition on his return (i.e. until 1 November 2003). This judgment was upheld in its entirety by the Svea Court of Appeal (Svea hovrätt) on 21 December 1998. Before the appellate court, the applicant had stated that his girlfriend, D., was expecting a child and that an expulsion to Sierra Leone would meet practical difficulties due to the ongoing conflict in the country. The applicant did not appeal to the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen).
The applicant met D., who is a Swedish citizen, some time in 1998 and moved in with her. A daughter was born to them in May 1999. D. is infected with the HIV virus.
The applicant petitioned the Government to have the expulsion order revoked. On 20 May 1999 the Government rejected the application but decided, having regard to “the present situation in Sierra Leone”, to grant the applicant a temporary residence permit until 19 November 1999. A further petition for a revocation of the expulsion order was rejected by the Government on 16 March 2000. Agreeing with an opinion given by the National Immigration Board, the Government considered that the prevailing situation in Sierra Leone no longer constituted an obstacle for the applicant’s expulsion.
Following the Court’s indication to the respondent Government, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, that it was desirable in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before the Court not to expel the applicant to Sierra Leone until further notice, the Swedish Minister of Justice, on 11 May 2000, decided to stay the enforcement of the expulsion order.
On 6 February 2001 the District Court convicted the applicant of, inter alia, an aggravated narcotics offence and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment to be followed by expulsion from Sweden. On 6 April 2001 the conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal which, however, revoked the expulsion order. In so doing, the appellate court referred to the contradictory views expressed on the general situation in Sierra Leone by the Migration Board (Migrationsverket; previously the National Immigration Board) in opinions given to the court in different cases concerning possible expulsions to that country. The court concluded that the situation was difficult to assess and added that some circumstances invoked in relation to the applicant personally could, if true, involve special risks in the event of his return to Sierra Leone. The court therefore considered that there were obstacles to the applicant’s expulsion which could be expected to remain when the question of enforcing an expulsion order would arise. As a consequence of the revocation of the expulsion order, the Court of Appeal increased the applicant’s prison sentence to seven years. On 18 May 2001 the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal.
The applicant’s representative has thereafter informed the Court of the applicant’s wish to withdraw the present application.
The applicant complained that he would risk being subjected to torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment upon return to Sierra Leone. Referring to his relationship with D. and their common daughter, he also asserted that he had strong links to Sweden. He invoked Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.
The Court notes that the applicant was convicted for narcotics offences by a District Court judgment of 28 October 1998 which, furthermore, ordered the applicant’s expulsion from Sweden. This order, which included a prohibition on his return valid until 1 November 2003, was upheld by the Court of Appeal and eventually gained legal force when the applicant failed to appeal to the Supreme Court. The applicant remained in Sweden and, by the judgment of the Court of Appeal of 6 April 2001, he was convicted for another narcotics offence and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. However, due to concerns regarding the general situation in Sierra Leone and the applicant’s personal situation, the Court of Appeal found that he could not be expelled from Sweden.
Although the expulsion order issued in 1998 appears to be still valid – the prohibition on return expiring only on 1 November 2003 –, under applicable Swedish law, the applicant will not be released on probation until he has served two-thirds of the seven-year prison sentence imposed in 2001. Consequently, the expulsion order will not be enforced.
As the applicant, therefore, no longer risks expulsion from Sweden the Court, having regard to Article 37 § 1 (b) of the Convention, considers that the matter has been resolved. Referring to Article 37 § 1 (a), the Court notes also that the applicant does not intend to pursue the application. Moreover, as regards the issues raised in the present case, the Court finds no reasons of a general character affecting respect for human rights, as defined in the Convention, which require the further examination of the application by virtue of Article 37 § 1 in fine.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Michael O’Boyle Nicolas Bratza
BARI v. SWEDEN DECISION
BARI v. SWEDEN DECISION