Supreme Court rules on EU conditions for asylum seekers

UK Border Agency officerEM (Eritrea) and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKSC 12 – read judgment

The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision on the correct test for when an asylum seeker or refugee resists their return to another EU country (here Italy) in which they first sought or were granted asylum. The parties before the court all agreed that the test applied by the Court of Appeal, namely a requirement for a systemic deficiencies in the listed country’s asylum procedures and reception conditions was incorrect. 

The Supreme Court agreed and held that even when the Dublin II Regulation was engaged, the correct test was that laid down in Soering v United Kingdom (1989) 11 EHRR 439  –  the removal of a person from a member state of the Council of Europe to another country was contrary to the ECHR “where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned… faces a real risk [in the country to which he or she is to be removed] of being subjected to [treatment contrary to article 3 of the Convention].” 

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No duty to snitch on another EU country’s asylum conditions

Medhanye, R(on the application of ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 1799 (Admin) (02 July 2012)  – read judgment

EU law is based on a central principle of mutual confidence. It therefore flies in the face of this trust to impose a legal duty on one member state to monitor whether another Member State was complying with its obligations under that law, including its obligation to respect fundamental human rights.

Background facts

The claimant, an Eritrean national, sought asylum in the UK, having previously claimed asylum in Italy. The secretary of state decided to remove him to Italy under Regulation 343/2003 (Dublin II). The claimant challenged the Secretary of State’s decision to certify as “clearly unfounded” his claim that removing him to Italy would breach his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). His application for judicial review was refused. Continue reading

The ECJ on Aslyum, Greece; the UK Protocol on the EU Charter – Dr Cian Murphy

Last Wednesday, the European Court of Justice issued a flurry of judgments just before the Christmas break. Indeed, there were so many interesting and important decisions amongst the twenty or so handed down that seems foolish to consider any of them the ‘most important’. Nonetheless the judgment in NS and Others v SSHD (C-411/10) must be a contender for the title.

The case concerns an asylum seeker in Britain who first entered the EU through Greece. The Dublin Regulation, which governs this aspect of EU asylum law, would ordinarily dictate that the applicant should be sent to Greece to have his asylum claim considered there. However, Mr Saeedi challenged his transfer to Greece, claiming that his human rights would be infringed by such a transfer as Greece would be unable to process his application. NS was joined with an Irish case, ME & Others v Refugee Applications Commissioner & MEJLR (C-493/10), which raised similar questions for EU law.

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When asylum seekers commit war crimes

Secretary of State for the Home Department v DD (Afghanistan) [2010] EWCA Civ 1407 (10 December 2010) – Read judgment

It is a sometimes controversial aspect of immigration law that asylum seekers facing a real risk of persecution will nevertheless be denied the protection of the Refugee Convention, through the application of Article 1F of that Convention.  One of the bases for exclusion from protection is Article 1F(c), which applies where a person “has been guilty of acts contrary to the principles of the United Nations”. How does a court decide such cases?

The Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) in a case involving an Afghani asylum seeker. The AIT had ruled that Article 1F did not apply, and so DD was entitled to refugee status.  The AIT’s conclusion was reached despite DD admitting a history of involvement with organisations engaged in violent activities against the Afghan Goverment and UN-mandated forces:  Jamiat-e-Islami, the Taliban, and Hizb-e-Islami. The Home Secretary’s appeal was allowed and the case was remitted to the AIT for a limited reconsideration.

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