Indefinite administrative detention is unlawful, rules the Administrative Court of First instance


Following an application lodged and supported by the Legal Unit of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR), concerning the prolongation of detention for an indefinite period of an Afghan citizen, after he had already been detained for 18 months, under the pretext of “an obligation to stay in a detention center”, the Athens Administrative Court of First Instance, ruled that the indefinite detention of migrants does not comply with the relevant legislation. 

The above judgement confirms the severe criticism previously expressed by GCR, as well as other national, European and International Organisations regarding the Opinion 44/2014 of the Legal Council of the State, aproved by the Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection. We underlined at that time that  the practice of indefinite detention of third country nationals is in direct violation of national, European and International Law and leads the Administration to unlawful, and thus accountable practices.

In particular, according to Court’s decision, “the restrictive measure imposed on the defendant –i.e. the obligation to stay in a detention center- effectively is in fact tantamount to the extension of his detention”, where detention beyond 18 months “does not have any base in the relevant legislation” and thus the detainee must be released.

It should be noted that administrative detention of third country nationals should only be imposed as a measure of last resort, under strict conditions and for a prescribed period of time; that administrative detainees live under conditions found by international organizations and the European Court of Human Rights as inhumane and degrading; that detainees do not have assured access to Justice, due to the lack of free legal aid.

In light of all the above and taking into consideration the recent judgment of Athens Administrative Court of First Instance, the Greek authorities must end the practice of indefinite detention and respect the guarantees set by the national, EU and international law.

See more:

-       Letters to Commissioner Malmstrom and the Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection,

-       GCR Press Release, “Indefinite detention: a direct infringement of national, European and international law”,





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