The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 20 October 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Boštjan M. Zupančič,
Luis López Guerra, judges,
and Santiago Quesada, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 19 September 2008,
Having regard to the interim measure indicated to the respondent Government under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court and the fact that this interim measure has been complied with,
Having regard to the decision to grant priority to the above application under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant is an Eritrean national who was born in 1964 and lives in Stockholm. He is represented before the Court by Mr B. Johansson, a lawyer practising in Stockholm. The Swedish Government (“the Government”) are represented by their Agent, Mrs C. Hellner of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 14 September 2005 the applicant applied for asylum and a residence permit in Sweden. Before the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) he claimed that, during a meeting in 2005 at the military camp where he was stationed, he had argued against an order to march to the border with Ethiopia. As a result, he had been arrested on suspicion of collaboration with Ethiopia and placed in a military prison. However, after a few months, he had managed to escape and, with the help of a smuggler, he had travelled to Sweden. The applicant claimed that he would risk being imprisoned and tortured for having escaped from military prison and left the country illegally.
On 9 September 2006 the Migration Board rejected the application. It questioned the applicant’s story and his credibility and concluded that he had not made probable that he was wanted or sought in Eritrea or that he had been imprisoned and escaped. Although it acknowledged that it was probable that the applicant would be checked by the Eritrean border authorities upon return to the country and that the manner in which he had left the country would be verified, it considered that against the above background, there was no reason to believe that the authorities would arrest him. Consequently, there were no grounds to grant him leave to remain in Sweden.
The applicant appealed to the Migration Court (Migrationsdomstolen), maintaining his claims and contesting that he was not credible.
On 25 September 2007, after having held an oral hearing, the Migration Court upheld the Migration Board’s decision in full. One of the lay judges (out of three lay judges and one professional judge) considered the applicant to be credible and wanted to grant him leave to remain in Sweden.
On 27 November 2007 the Migration Court of Appeal (Migrationsöverdomstolen) refused leave to appeal and the deportation order thus gained legal force.
On 7 May 2008 the applicant was detained, awaiting the enforcement of his deportation order. In view of that, he lodged a request for reconsideration of his case, relying on the same circumstances as previously. In support of his claims he invoked a letter from UNHCR’s Regional Office for the Baltic and Nordic countries as well as a letter from the Swedish section of Amnesty International.
On 30 October 2008 the Migration Board refused to reconsider the applicant’s case since it considered that no new circumstances had been invoked.
The applicant appealed to the Migration Court which, on 27 November 2008, rejected the appeal as it considered that, although a careful evaluation had to be made in regard to asylum seekers from Eritrea, everyone from that country could not be granted leave to remain in Sweden and, in its view, the applicant had failed to show that his story was credible.
On 4 December 2008 the Migration Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal.
The deportation was set for 3 January 2009 but, following a request by the applicant under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, the Court decided on 30 December 2008 to indicate to the Swedish Government that it was desirable in the interest of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before the Court not to deport the applicant to Eritrea until 16 January 2009. This interim measure was subsequently prolonged until further notice.
The applicant complained under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention that, if deported from Sweden to Eritrea, he would be exposed to a real risk of being killed or detained without trial and tortured because he had escaped from military prison and left Eritrea illegally.
By letter dated 9 September 2009 the applicant’s representative informed the Court that the applicant wished to withdraw the application since, on 26 August 2009, the Migration Board had granted him a permanent residence permit in Sweden.
The Court notes that the applicant no longer risks deportation from Sweden and that he does not intend to pursue his case. In these circumstances, and having regard to Article 37 § 1 (a) and (b) of the Convention, the Court is of the opinion that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the continued examination of the case. In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list, and to discontinue the application of Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Santiago Quesada Josep Casadevall