Urteil der Große Kammer zum Schutz schwerkranker Personen vor Abschiebung:
1. Entsprechend der Entscheidung des EGMR in N. gegen Großbritannien vom 27.5.2008 (asyl.net: M13624), stellt die Abschiebung einer schwerkranken Person nur in Ausnahmefällen eine Verletzung von Art. 3 EMRK (Verbot unmenschlicher oder erniedrigender Behandlung) dar auch wenn im Zielstaat die Verschlechterung der Lebenssituation und der Lebenserwartung droht. Zu diesem Ansatz des Gerichtshofs hat jedoch "eine Klarstellung" zu erfolgen, da nicht nur Personen, deren Tod unmittelbar bevorsteht, vor Abschiebungen geschützt werden sollen.
2. "Besondere Ausnahmefälle" im Sinne der bisherigen Rechtsprechung des EGMR sind anzunehmen, wenn schwerkranken Personen bei Abschiebung eine baldige und wesentliche Verschlechterung ihres Gesundheitszustands droht, die zu starkem Leiden oder einer erheblichen Verkürzung der Lebensdauer führt.
3. Bei der Prüfung der Umstände im Zielstaat des Abschiebung ist insbesondere zu berücksichtigen, ob Betroffene auch tatsächlich Zugang zur notwendigen Behandlung im haben. Bei Zweifeln sind entsprechend der Entscheidung in Tarakhel gegen die Schweiz vom 04.11.2014 (asyl.net: M22411, Asylmagazin 12/2014) Garantien vom Zielstaat der Abschiebung einzuholen.
4. Im Hinblick auf Art. 8 EMRK (Recht auf Familienleben) ist zu prüfen inwiefern die erkrankte Person auf die Unterstützung ihrer Familie angewiesen ist.
(Leitsätze der Redaktion; siehe Anmerkung in Asylmagazin 1-2/2017, S. 33)
124. Following the applicant’s death, his relatives expressed the wish to pursue the proceedings (see paragraph 1 above). [...]
132. The Court observes that there are important issues at stake in the present case, notably concerning the expulsion of aliens who are seriously ill. Thus, the impact of this case goes beyond the particular situation of the applicant, unlike most of the similar cases on expulsion decided by a Chamber (compare F.G. v. Sweden [GC], no. 43611/11, § 82, ECHR 2016).
133. Having regard to the foregoing, the Court finds that special circumstances relating to respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto require it to continue the examination of the application in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention. [...]
174. The prohibition under Article 3 of the Convention does not relate to all instances of ill-treatment. Such treatment has to attain a minimum level of severity if it is to fall within the scope of that Article. The assessment of this minimum is relative; it depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of the treatment, its physical and mental effects and, in some cases, the sex, age and state of health of the victim (see N. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 29; see also M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, cited above, § 219; Tarakhel, cited above, § 94; and Bouyid v. Belgium [GC], no. 23380/09, § 86, ECHR 2015). [...]
176. In two cases concerning the expulsion by the United Kingdom of aliens who were seriously ill, the Court based its findings on the general principles outlined above (see paragraphs 172-74 above). In both cases the Court proceeded on the premise that aliens who were subject to expulsion could not in principle claim any entitlement to remain in the territory of a Contracting State in order to continue to benefit from medical, social or other forms of assistance and services provided by the returning State (see D. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 54, and N. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 42).
177. In D. v. the United Kingdom (cited above), which concerned the decision taken by the United Kingdom authorities to expel to St Kitts an alien who was suffering from Aids, the Court considered that the applicant’s removal would expose him to a real risk of dying under most distressing circumstances and would amount to inhuman treatment (see D. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 53). It found that the case was characterised by “very exceptional circumstances”, owing to the fact that the applicant suffered from an incurable illness and was in the terminal stages, that there was no guarantee that he would be able to obtain any nursing or medical care in St Kitts or that he had family there willing or able to care for him, or that he had any other form of moral or social support (ibid., §§ 52-53). Taking the view that, in those circumstances, his suffering would attain the minimum level of severity required by Article 3, the Court held that compelling humanitarian considerations weighed against the applicant’s expulsion (ibid., § 54).
178. In the case of N. v. the United Kingdom, which concerned the removal of a Ugandan national who was suffering from Aids to her country of origin, the Court, in examining whether the circumstances of the case attained the level of severity required by Article 3 of the Convention, observed that neither the decision to remove an alien who was suffering from a serious illness to a country where the facilities for the treatment of that illness were inferior to those available in the Contracting State, nor the fact that the individual’s circumstances, including his or her life expectancy, would be significantly reduced, constituted in themselves “exceptional” circumstances sufficient to give rise to a breach of Article 3 (see N. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 42). In the Court’s view, it was important to avoid upsetting the fair balance inherent in the whole of the Convention between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirements of the protection of the individual’s fundamental rights. A finding to the contrary would place too great a burden on States by obliging them to alleviate the disparities between their health-care system and the level of treatment available in the third country concerned through the provision of free and unlimited health care to all aliens without a right to stay within their jurisdiction (ibid., § 44). Rather, regard should be had to the fact that the applicant’s condition was not critical and was stable as a result of the antiretroviral treatment she had received in the United Kingdom, that she was fit to travel and that her condition was not expected to deteriorate as long as she continued to take the treatment she needed (ibid., § 47). The Court also deemed it necessary to take account of the fact that the rapidity of the deterioration which the applicant would suffer in the receiving country, and the extent to which she would be able to obtain access to medical treatment, support and care there, including help from relatives, necessarily involved a certain degree of speculation, particularly in view of the constantly evolving situation with regard to the treatment of Aids worldwide (ibid., § 50). The Court concluded that the implementation of the decision to remove the applicant would not give rise to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention (ibid., § 51). Nevertheless, it specified that, in addition to situations of the kind addressed in D. v. the United Kingdom in which death was imminent, there might be other very exceptional cases where the humanitarian considerations weighing against removal were equally compelling (see D. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 43). An examination of the case-law subsequent to N. v. the United Kingdom has not revealed any such examples. [...]
181. The Court concludes from this recapitulation of the case-law that the application of Article 3 of the Convention only in cases where the person facing expulsion is close to death, which has been its practice since the judgment in N. v. the United Kingdom, has deprived aliens who are seriously ill, but whose condition is less critical, of the benefit of that provision. As a corollary to this, the case-law subsequent to N. v. the United Kingdom has not provided more detailed guidance regarding the “very exceptional cases” referred to in N. v. the United Kingdom, other than the case contemplated in D. v. the United Kingdom.
182. In the light of the foregoing, and reiterating that it is essential that the Convention is interpreted and applied in a manner which renders its rights practical and effective and not theoretical and illusory (see Airey v. Ireland, 9 October 1979, § 26, Series A no. 32; Mamatkulov and Askarov v. Turkey [GC], nos. 46827/99 and 46951/99, § 121, ECHR 2005-I; and Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy [GC], no. 27765/09, § 175, ECHR 2012), the Court is of the view that the approach adopted hitherto should be clarified.
183. The Court considers that the “other very exceptional cases” within the meaning of the judgment in N. v. the United Kingdom (§ 43) which may raise an issue under Article 3 should be understood to refer to situations involving the removal of a seriously ill person in which substantial grounds have been shown for believing that he or she, although not at imminent risk of dying, would face a real risk, on account of the absence of appropriate treatment in the receiving country or the lack of access to such treatment, of being exposed to a serious, rapid and irreversible decline in his or her state of health resulting in intense suffering or to a significant reduction in life expectancy. The Court points out that these situations correspond to a high threshold for the application of Article 3 of the Convention in cases concerning the removal of aliens suffering from serious illness.
184. As to whether the above conditions are satisfied in a given situation, the Court observes that in cases involving the expulsion of aliens, the Court does not itself examine the applications for international protection or verify how States control the entry, residence and expulsion of aliens. By virtue of Article 1 of the Convention the primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing the guaranteed rights and freedoms is laid on the national authorities, who are thus required to examine the applicants’ fears and to assess the risks they would face if removed to the receiving country, from the standpoint of Article 3. The machinery of complaint to the Court is subsidiary to national systems safeguarding human rights. This subsidiary character is articulated in Article 13 and Article 35 § 1 of the Convention (see M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, cited above, §§ 286-87, and F.G. v. Sweden, cited above, §§ 117-18).
185. Accordingly, in cases of this kind, the authorities’ obligation under Article 3 to protect the integrity of the persons concerned is fulfilled primarily through appropriate procedures allowing such examination to be carried out (see, mutatis mutandis, El-Masri v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [GC], no. 39630/09, § 182, ECHR 2012; Tarakhel, cited above, § 104; and F.G. v. Sweden, cited above, § 117).
186. In the context of these procedures, it is for the applicants to adduce evidence capable of demonstrating that there are substantial grounds for believing that, if the measure complained of were to be implemented, they would be exposed to a real risk of being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 (see Saadi, cited above, § 129, and F.G. v. Sweden, cited above, § 120). In this connection it should be observed that a certain degree of speculation is inherent in the preventive purpose of Article 3 and that it is not a matter of requiring the persons concerned to provide clear proof of their claim that they would be exposed to proscribed treatment (see, in particular, Trabelsi v. Belgium, no. 140/10, § 130, ECHR 2014 (extracts)).
187. Where such evidence is adduced, it is for the authorities of the returning State, in the context of domestic procedures, to dispel any doubts raised by it (see Saadi, cited above, § 129, and F.G. v. Sweden, cited above, § 120). The risk alleged must be subjected to close scrutiny (see Saadi, cited above, § 128; Sufi and Elmi v. the United Kingdom, nos. 8319/07 and 11449/07, § 214, 28 June 2011; Hirsi Jamaa and Others, cited above, § 116; and Tarakhel, cited above, § 104) in the course of which the authorities in the returning State must consider the foreseeable consequences of removal for the individual concerned in the receiving State, in the light of the general situation there and the individual’s personal circumstances (see Vilvarajah and Others, cited above, § 108; El-Masri, cited above, § 213; and Tarakhel, cited above, § 105). The assessment of the risk as defined above (see paragraphs 183-84) must therefore take into consideration general sources such as reports of the World Health Organisation or of reputable non-governmental organisations and the medical certificates concerning the person in question. [...]
189. As regards the factors to be taken into consideration, the authorities in the returning State must verify on a case-by-case basis whether the care generally available in the receiving State is sufficient and appropriate in practice for the treatment of the applicant’s illness so as to prevent him or her being exposed to treatment contrary to Article 3 (see paragraph 183 above). The benchmark is not the level of care existing in the returning State; it is not a question of ascertaining whether the care in the receiving State would be equivalent or inferior to that provided by the health-care system in the returning State. Nor is it possible to derive from Article 3 a right to receive specific treatment in the receiving State which is not available to the rest of the population.
190. The authorities must also consider the extent to which the individual in question will actually have access to this care and these facilities in the receiving State. The Court observes in that regard that it has previously questioned the accessibility of care (see Aswat, cited above, § 55, and Tatar, cited above, §§ 47-49) and referred to the need to consider the cost of medication and treatment, the existence of a social and family network, and the distance to be travelled in order to have access to the required care (see Karagoz v. France (dec.), no. 47531/99, 15 November 2001; N. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, §§ 34-41, and the references cited therein; and E.O. v. Italy (dec.), cited above).
191. Where, after the relevant information has been examined, serious doubts persist regarding the impact of removal on the persons concerned – on account of the general situation in the receiving country and/or their individual situation – the returning State must obtain individual and sufficient assurances from the receiving State, as a precondition for removal, that appropriate treatment will be available and accessible to the persons concerned so that they do not find themselves in a situation contrary to Article 3 (on the subject of individual assurances, see Tarakhel, cited above, § 120).
192. The Court emphasises that, in cases concerning the removal of seriously ill persons, the event which triggers the inhuman and degrading treatment, and which engages the responsibility of the returning State under Article 3, is not the lack of medical infrastructure in the receiving State. Likewise, the issue is not one of any obligation for the returning State to alleviate the disparities between its health-care system and the level of treatment existing in the receiving State through the provision of free and unlimited health care to all aliens without a right to stay within its jurisdiction. The responsibility that is engaged under the Convention in cases of this type is that of the returning State, on account of an act – in this instance, expulsion – which would result in an individual being exposed to a risk of treatment prohibited by Article 3. [...]
221. [...] The Grand Chamber considers that examining the complaint alleging a violation of Article 8 in this way from the standpoint of the Belgian authorities’ positive obligations is made all the more necessary by the developments in the case, in particular the deterioration of the applicant’s health and his eventual death. Lastly, the Grand Chamber reiterates that in the context of both its positive and its negative obligations, the State must strike a fair balance between the competing interests of the individual and of society as a whole, and that the extent of the State’s obligations will vary according to the particular circumstances of the persons involved and the general interest (ibid., § 140, and the references cited therein).
222. However, unlike the Chamber, having observed that the Belgian authorities did not examine the applicant’s medical data and the impact of his removal on his state of health in any of the proceedings brought before them, the Grand Chamber has concluded that there would have been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention if the applicant had been removed to Georgia without such an assessment being carried out (see paragraph 206 above).
223. A fortiori, the Court observes that the Belgian authorities likewise did not examine, under Article 8, the degree to which the applicant was dependent on his family as a result of the deterioration of his state of health. In the context of the proceedings for regularisation on medical grounds the Aliens Appeals Board, indeed, dismissed the applicant’s complaint under Article 8 on the ground that the decision refusing him leave to remain had not been accompanied by a removal measure (see paragraph 58 above).
224. Nevertheless, just as in the case of Article 3, it is not for the Court to conduct an assessment, from the perspective of Article 8 of the Convention, of the impact of removal on the applicant’s family life in the light of his state of health. In that connection the Court considers that this task not only falls to the domestic authorities, which are competent in the matter, but also constitutes a procedural obligation with which they must comply in order to ensure the effectiveness of the right to respect for family life. As the Court has observed above (see paragraph 184), the machinery of complaint to the Court is subsidiary to national systems safeguarding human rights.
225. Accordingly, if the Belgian authorities had ultimately concluded that Article 3 of the Convention as interpreted above did not act as a bar to the applicant’s removal to Georgia, they would have been required, in order to comply with Article 8, to examine in addition whether, in the light of the applicant’s specific situation at the time of removal (see, mutatis mutandis, Maslov v. Austria [GC], no. 1638/03, § 93, ECHR 2008), the family could reasonably have been expected to follow him to Georgia or, if not, whether observance of the applicant’s right to respect for his family life required that he be granted leave to remain in Belgium for the time he had left to live.
226. It follows that, if the applicant had been removed to Georgia without these factors having been assessed, there would also have been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention. [...]