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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP welcomes crucial ECJ ruling on asylum transfers

The European Court of Justice has today ruled that non-EU asylum seekers may not be transferred to another EU Member State if they risk being subjected to inhuman treatment, following the case of Mr N.S, an Afghan national fighting removal from the UK on the grounds of poor conditions in Greece [1].

Under the Dublin II Regulation, Member States are required to assess which Member States is responsible for examining an asylum application lodged on their territory, a system which is designed to prevent ‘asylum shopping and, at the same time, ensure that each asylum application is processed by only one Member State.

In its ruling, the ECJ stated that EU law did not allow Member States to presume that another Member State was observing fundamental rights, and that authorities must avoid worsening an asylum seeker’s human rights situation through “unreasonable delays”.

Commenting on the judgement, Jean, an asylum expert, said: “I welcome today’s judgement, which clearly outlines the conditions which need to be fulfilled by Member States when applying the Dublin Regulation[2].

“I particularly welcome that the judgement confirms that the full application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights must be the guide for the Dublin Regulation’s application – if there is a serious risk that the asylum seeker would face a real risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment in the Member State indicated as responsible for examining the claim, then they should not be transferred back. Also, their case should be examined where they are currently staying, if delay would worsen their situation.

“The Judgement also clarifies the status of the UK (and Poland’s) opt out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights stating that the Charter must be fully respected in decisions on such cases as this.

“Today’s judgement only serves to further highlight the importance of ensuring that fully functioning, efficient and quality asylum systems are operating in all Member States if trust between Member States is to become a reality, and the fundamental rights of all individuals in the EU are respected.”

Notes to Editor

[1] Mr N.S was fighting for removal from the UK on grounds of poor conditions in Greece.  Lawyers argued that European law places an obligation on Member States to consider conditions in another EU country when they return someone under Dublin, whilst the Home Office said that EU countries can be assumed to be safe.

[2] Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national