The applicant, Ms N.A., is an Iraqi national who was born in 1996 and lives in Finland. The case concerns her father’s expulsion to Iraq, where he was subsequently killed. The applicant’s father was a Sunni Muslim Arab from Baghdad. He served as a major in the army under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and then for an American logistics company after the fall of that regime. Between 2007 and 2015 he worked in the Iraqi Office of the Inspector General, part of the Interior Ministry, where he was an investigator and then a leading officer on human rights crimes and corruption cases. He often had to investigate intelligence service officers or officers in militia groups. His work became more dangerous when Shia militia gained prominence.
He was investigating a case in 2015 when he had a disagreement with a colleague, who allegedly belonged to a leading Shia militia group, the Badr Organisation. The colleague assaulted the applicant’s father and insulted him but was then transferred to the intelligence service and promoted. In February 2015 there was an attempt on the applicant’s father’s life when someone tried to shoot him. He reported the attack but later concluded that it was not being investigated. Feeling that he would not be protected in Iraq or receive any justice, he resigned in March 2015.
In April 2015 a bomb exploded in the family car just after the applicant’s father and mother had got out of it and in May of that year the applicant herself was the victim of an attempted kidnapping.
The family arrived in Finland in September 2015 and the father sought international protection. The authorities rejected his asylum application in December 2016, the Immigration Service accepting his account of the facts but deciding that Sunni Arabs did not per se face persecution in Iraq.
An appeal by the applicant’s father was dismissed by the Helsinki Administrative Court in September 2017. It held that he faced no danger owing to his past work for the regime of Saddam Hussein or the American logistics company. There was no proof that the attacks on him had been due to his conflict with his former colleague at the Interior Ministry, rather the general security situation in Iraq was to blame. There was also no real risk of persecution owing to his Sunni background.
The applicant’s father returned to Iraq in November 2017 under assisted voluntary return. In December 2017 the applicant learned that her aunt’s apartment, used previously by the family as a hiding place, had been attacked. Later that month she was informed that her father had been killed by unidentified gunmen. According to documents submitted by the applicant her father was shot three times in a street in Baghdad.
The applicant complains that her father’s expulsion to Iraq violated Article 2 (right to life) and Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment). She argues that the Finnish authorities risk’ assessment was not undertaken with the necessary diligence and was in clear conflict with the Strasbourg Court’s case-law.
Press release ECHR 377 (2019) 07.11.2019