The Sheremetyevo airport of Moscow | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa
The Sheremetyevo airport of Moscow | Photo: Picture-alliance/dpa

Four men spent months sleeping on the floor in a busy transit area of Moscow's international airport, surviving on emergency food rations. Europe's rights court says Russia must now pay them compensation.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday that Russia had violated the rights of four asylum-seekers who were stranded in a transit zone of a Moscow airport for months.

The men — an Iraqi, a Palestinian, a Syrian and a Somali — were forced to stay in Sheremetyevo Airport's noisy boarding area between 2015 and 2017 while awaiting a decision on their asylum applications.

They spent five to 22 months sleeping on the floor on mattresses and relying on emergency rations supplied by the local branch of the UN refugee agency.

They were confined to a constantly lit, busy transit area, without access to proper shower or cooking facilities — conditions the Strasbourg-based court said amounted to degrading treatment.

No legal basis for treatment

The ECHR concluded that the asylum-seekers had been deprived of their freedom and exposed to inhumane conditions for an excessive period of time, and without any legal basis.

It added that "despite the mounting 'migration crisis' in Europe," which reached its peak in 2015-16, countries still had a responsibility to ensure "minimum guarantees."

The court ordered Russia to pay €20,000 ($22,200) each in compensation to the Iraqi and Syrian men, €26,000 to the Somali man, and €15,000 to the Palestinian.

The UN refugee agency organized for the Iraqi and Syrian nationals to be settled in Denmark and Sweden as persons in need of international protection, while the Palestinian was sent to Egypt. The Somali man eventually returned to his home country, saying he had lost hope. For his own safety, he decided not to continue working as a journalist there.

nm/aw (AFP, dpa)

First published: November 21, 2019

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