Feilazoo v. Malta: Immigration detention in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond and the right of individual petition

By Dr. Aristi Volou (Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Centre for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School and Associate Editor of Oxford Reports on UN Human Rights Law)

Introduction

On 11 March 2021, the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter the ‘Court’) delivered a highly anticipated judgment which concerned issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic. More precisely, in Feilazoo v. Malta, the Court was called upon to decide on the applicant’s immigration detention next to new arrivals in Covid-19 quarantine, as well as on the conditions and the lawfulness of his immigration detention and on issues related to the right of petition before the Court.

Although we can praise the Court for its balanced approach to the question of access to medical treatment, other aspects of its decision on the conditions of detention are disappointing. First, the Court did not seize the opportunity to develop clear and adequate standards in the context of the deprivation of liberty during the Covid-19 pandemic and thus clearly failed to live up to expectations that it would play an active role in safeguarding the rights of those most affected by the pandemic such as detainees and prisoners. Second, the Court failed to consider all available evidence which would enable it to hold the respondent State accountable for overcrowding in detention.

Continue reading