49. The Government were of the view that since the applicants had been free to leave the territory of the transit zone in the direction of Serbia, they in fact had not been deprived of their personal liberty. Article 5 of the Convention was therefore inapplicable.
52. It must be determined in the first place whether the placing of the applicants in the transit zone constituted a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of Article 5 of the Convention. The Court has already found that holding aliens in an international zone involves a restriction upon liberty which is not in every respect comparable to that obtained in detention centres. However, such confinement is acceptable only if it is accompanied by safeguards for the persons concerned and is not prolonged excessively. Otherwise, a mere restriction on liberty is turned into a deprivation of liberty (see Amuur v. France, 25 June 1996, § 43, Reports of Judgments and
Decisions 1996-III, and Riad and Idiab v. Belgium, nos. 29787/03 and 29810/03, § 68, 24 January 2008).
68. The motives underlying the applicants’ detention may well be those referred to by the Government in the context of Article 5 § 1 (f) of the Convention, that is to counter abuses of the asylum procedure. However, for the Court the fact remains that the applicants were deprived of their liberty without any formal decision of the authorities and solely by virtue of an elastically interpreted general provision of the law – a procedure which in the Court’s view falls short of the requirements enounced in the Court’s case-law. The conditions of Article 31/A of the Asylum Act were not met and no formal decision was taken; furthermore no special grounds for detention in the transit zone were provided for in Article 71/A. In this connection the Court would reiterate that it has considered the absence of any grounds given by the judicial authorities in their decisions authorising detention for a prolonged period of time, as in the present case to be incompatible with the principle of the protection from arbitrariness enshrined in Article 5 § 1 (see Stašaitis v. Lithuania, no. 47679/99, § 67, 21 March 2002; Nakhmanovich v. Russia, no. 55669/00, § 70, 2 March 2006; Belevitskiy v. Russia, no. 72967/01, § 91, 1 March 2007, and
Mooren v. Germany [GC], no 11364/03, § 79, 9 July 2009).
69. It follows that the applicants’ detention cannot be considered “lawful” for the purposes of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention. Consequently, there has been a violation of that provision.
75. The Court observes that the applicants’ detention consisted in a de facto measure, not supported by any decision specifically addressing the issue of deprivation of liberty (see paragraph 67 above). Moreover, the proceedings suggested by the Government concerned the applicants’ asylum applications rather than the question of personal liberty. In these circumstances, it is quite inconceivable how the applicants could have pursued any judicial review of their committal to, and detention in, the transit zone – which itself had not been ordered in any formal proceedings or taken the shape of a decision.
76. The Court therefore must conclude that the applicants did not have at their disposal any “proceedings by which the lawfulness of [their] detention [could have been] decided speedily by a court”.
77. It follows that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention.
89. In view of the satisfactory material conditions and the relatively short time involved, the Court concludes that the treatment complained of did not reach the minimum level of severity necessary to constitute inhuman treatment within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
90. Having regard to the foregoing considerations, it finds that there has been no violation of Article 3 of the Convention.
100. The Court further observes that the Government have not indicated any remedies by which the applicants could have complained about the conditions in which they were held in the transit zone.
101. It follows that there has been a violation of Article 13 taken together with Article 3 of the Convention.
118. The Court observes that the applicants were removed from Hungary on the strength of the Government Decree listing Serbia as a safe third country and establishing a presumption in this respect. The individualised assessment of their situation with regard to any risk they ran if returned to Serbia took place in these legal circumstances. Indeed, it involved a reversal of the burden of proof to the applicants’ detriment including the burden to prove the real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment in a chain-refoulement situation to Serbia and then the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, eventually driving them to Greece. However, it is incumbent on the domestic authorities to carry out an assessment of that risk of their own motion when information about such a risk is ascertainable from a wide number of sources. Not only that the Hungarian authorities did not perform this assessment in the determination of the individual risks but they refused even to consider the merits of the information provided by the counsel, limiting their argument to the position of the Government Decree 191/2015.
125. Having regard to the above considerations, the Court finds that the applicants did not have the benefit of effective guarantees which would have protected them from exposure to a real risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. There has accordingly been a violation of that provision in this regard.