Austria / Constitutional Court / E3296/2017 Iranian national vs. Austria

Key facts of the case

The complainant, an Iranian national, applied for international protection on 28 October 2015 following his entry into the Federal territory of Austria. He brought forward to be Christan and that based on that he would be persecuted in Iran in case he returns. The Federal Asylum Authority and later on also the Federal Administrative Court denied international protection and decided that deportation to Iran was permissible. In essence, they argued that the applicants conversion to Christian belief was fictitious and served the sole purpose of obtaining asylum in Austria. The complainant had deceived the Asylum Authority in the first interrogation with regards to his true identity and origin, had submitted forged documents and was unable to provide any specific information on the persecution in Iran. The Iranian national appealed against this decision at the Constitutional Court, mainly arguing that there was no oral hearing in front of the Federal Administrative Court. 

The key legal question raised by the Court

Is a oral hearing required in case an asylum decision on the existence of a ground for asylum essentially depends on the credibility of the asylum seeker in relation to his internal attitude (in this case his religious beliefs)?

Outcome of the case

The Constitutional Court found that the appellant’s right enshrined in Art 47 (2) CFR was violated. A Court decision on the existence of a ground for asylum essentially depends on the credibility of the asylum seeker in relation to his internal attitude, namely his religious beliefs. For the assessment of such a personal belief, Art 47 (2) CFR requires that the court draws up its own impression directly at an oral hearing (see in this connection ECHR 29.10.1991, case Helmers, Appl. 11.826 / 85, Z37, on the requirement of public hearing in appeal proceedings, further mwN VfSlg 19632/2012). As in this case no oral hearing took place at the Court in this case, the appellant was violated in his constitutionally guaranteed right under Article 47 (2) of the CFR. The Constitutional Court therefore overturned the decision by the Federal Administrative Court.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

§21 Abs7 BFA-VG regulates the waiver of an oral hearing for the proceedings at the Federal Administrative Court. The waiver of an oral hearing (if an administrative procedure has already been carried out in the context of which the party was granted oral hearing) is in accordance with Art47 (2) CFR at least in those cases, in which the facts in connection with the complaint appear to be clarified from the file or if the investigation shows beyond doubt that the allegation is contrary to the facts (see VfSlg 19.632 / 2012)

The omission of an oral hearing, in the case this is required to ensure a decision of the trial court corresponding to the requirements of Art. 47 (2), is a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right pursuant to Art. 47 (2) CFR (VfGH 13.3.2013, U1175 / 12 et al., 26.6.2013, U1257 / 2012, 22.9.2014, U2529 / 2013).

Such a violation of Art. 47 (2) CFR is attributable to the Federal Administrative Court here.

In the present case the decision on the existence of a ground for asylum essentially depends on the credibility of the asylum seeker and aspects related to his inner attitude, namely in this case his religious belief. For this assessment the personal impression is relevant, and Art 47 (2) CFR requires that the court gets his own impression directly at a hearing (see in this connection ECHR 29.10.1991, case Helmers, Appl. 11.826 / 85, Z37, on the requirement of public hearing in appeal proceedings, further with VfSlg 19.632 / 2012). If the court fails to do so, it attributes § 21 (7) BFA-VG a content that is incompatible with Art. 47 (2) GRC and thus infringes upon the appellant in the law guaranteed by this constitutional provision.

The appellant has thus been infringed by the contested findings in his constitutionally guaranteed right under Article 47 (2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

Für das Verfahren vor dem Bundesverwaltungsgericht regelt §21 Abs7 BFA-VG den Entfall der mündlichen Verhandlung. Das Absehen von einer mündlichen Verhandlung steht – sofern zuvor bereits ein Verwaltungsverfahren stattgefunden hat, in dessen Rahmen Parteiengehör gewährt wurde – jedenfalls in jenen Fällen im Einklang mit Art47 Abs2 GRC, in denen der Sachverhalt aus der Aktenlage in Verbindung mit der Beschwerde geklärt erscheint oder sich aus den Ermittlungen zweifelsfrei ergibt, dass das Vorbringen tatsachenwidrig ist (vgl. VfSlg 19.632/2012).

Das Absehen von einer mündlichen Verhandlung, wenn diese zur Gewährleistung einer, den Anforderungen des Art47 Abs2 Vorheriger SuchbegriffGRCNächster Suchbegriff an ein faires Verfahren entsprechenden Entscheidung des erkennenden Gerichtes geboten ist, stellt aber eine Verletzung im verfassungsgesetzlich gewährleisteten Recht gemäß Art47 Abs2 GRC dar (VfGH 13.3.2013, U1175/12 ua.; 26.6.2013, U1257/2012; 22.9.2014, U2529/2013).

Eine solche Verletzung von Art47 Abs2 GRC ist dem Bundesverwaltungsgericht hier anzulasten:

Im vorliegenden Fall, in dem die Entscheidung über das Vorliegen eines Asylgrundes wesentlich von der Glaubwürdigkeit des Asylwerbers in Bezug auf seine innere Einstellung, nämlich hier seine religiöse Überzeugung, abhängt, für deren Beurteilung der persönliche Eindruck maßgeblich ist, verlangt Art47 Abs2 GRC, dass sich das erkennende Gericht selbst unmittelbar in einer mündlichen Verhandlung diesen Eindruck verschafft (vgl. in diesem Zusammenhang EGMR 29.10.1991, Fall Helmers, Appl. 11.826/85, Z37, zum Gebot der öffentlichen mündlichen Verhandlung im Rechtsmittelverfahren; weiters mwN VfSlg 19.632/2012). Unterlässt dies das erkennende Gericht, unterstellt es §21 Abs7 BFA-VG einen mit Art47 Abs2 GRC nicht zu vereinbarenden Inhalt und verletzt damit den Beschwerdeführer in seinem durch diese Bestimmung verfassungsgesetzlich gewährleisteten Recht.

Der Beschwerdeführer ist somit durch das angefochtene Erkenntnis in seinem verfassungsgesetzlich gewährleisteten Recht gemäß Art47 Abs2 der Charta der Grundrechte der Europäischen Union verletzt worden

Language: 
German
Deciding body (original language): 
Verfassngsgerichtshof
Language: 
German