ECHR rules against Croatia over Afghan girl train death

Written by The Frontier Post

Strasbourg (AFP/APP): The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Croatia to compensate an Afghan family over the 2017 death of a young girl and the handling of their asylum claim.

Europe’s migrant crisis saw thousands of people — many from conflict-torn Syria — cross the Balkans to seek asylum in the European Union, peaking in 2015.

A train struck and killed the six-year-old Afghan girl in Serbia four years ago after Croatian police returned the family to the border and ordered them to follow a railway line back to Serbia.

Judges condemned Zagreb for multiple violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered the EU member state to pay the family 40,000 euros ($45,350) as well as 16,700 euros costs.

Croatian authorities were found to have breached the convention ban on collective expulsions, unlawful arrests or detention and degrading treatment.

Croatian authorities have denied returning the family to the border.

The family of 14 crossed five countries to reach Croatia in 2017, more than a year after leaving Afghanistan, the ECHR ruling said.

They managed to enter Croatia several months after being denied entry and submitted applications for international protection while living in an immigration centre.

Judges called the investigation into the girl’s death “inefficient” and noted that Croatian authorities refused to use police officers’ GPS and mobile phone signals to prove if they were in contact with the family.

Judges also criticised the slow processing of their applications, the limited contact between the family and their lawyer and the pressure Croatian authorities put on the lawyer.

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