CJEU - C 31/09 / Judgment Nawras Bolbol v Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal

Key facts of the case:

This case concerned the interpretation of Article 12(1)(a) of Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection. Ms Bolbol, a Palestinian stateless person, arrived in Hungary in 2007 from the Gaza Strip. She submitted an application for asylum to the Hungarian immigration authority, invoking the unsafe situation in the Gaza Strip caused by the daily clashes between Fatah and Hamas. The authority rejected her application since she did not leave her country of origin owing to persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality or because of political persecution. Ms Bolbol challenged this decision, pointing out that, as a displaced Palestinian, she was entitled to the special protection provided for in Article 1D of the Geneva Convention concerning the status of refugees, referred to by the provisions of Article 12(1)(a) of Council Directive 2004/83/EC, which establishes the regime applicable in the Union to refugees and other persons requiring international protection. Under this Article, persons who have received protection from an organ or agency such as the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), but for whom this protection has ceased without their position being definitively settled, are ipso facto entitled to protection under the Convention.

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

The Court considered that if these specific provisions of the Geneva Convention were liable to apply to "Palestine refugees" in the broad sense, i.e. to any Palestinian displaced following the hostilities in the region and not only after the 1948 conflict, this would only concern persons who had in fact had recourse to the aid supplied by UNRWA. Persons who, like Ms Bolbol, were only eligible to receive such protection, are covered by the general provisions of the Convention. The Court did not rule on whether, as the applicant in the main proceedings claimed, a person covered by the scope of Article 1D of the Geneva Convention should be automatically granted refugee status by virtue of this fact alone.

Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:

The Court highlighted that Under Recital 10 in the preamble to the Directive: ‘This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular this Directive seeks to ensure full respect for human dignity and the right to asylum of applicants for asylum and their accompanying family members.’