CJEU - C 562/13 / Judgment Centre public d’action sociale d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve v Moussa Abdida

Key facts of the case:
 
(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Articles 19(2) and 47 — Directive 2004/83/EC — Minimum standards for determining who qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection status — Person eligible for subsidiary protection — Article 15(b) — Torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of an applicant in the country of origin — Article 3 — More favourable standards — Applicant suffering from a serious illness — No appropriate treatment available in the country of origin — Directive 2008/115/EC — Return of illegally staying third-country nationals — Article 13 — Judicial remedy with suspensive effect — Article 14 — Safeguards pending return — Basic needs)
 
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
 
64. Since these proceedings are, for the parties to the main proceedings, a step in the action pending before the national court, the decision on costs is a matter for that court. Costs incurred in submitting observations to the Court, other than the costs of those parties, are not recoverable. 
 
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
 
Articles 5 and 13 of Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, taken in conjunction with Articles 19(2) and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 14(1)(b) of that directive, are to be interpreted as precluding national legislation which:
  • does not endow with suspensive effect an appeal against a decision ordering a third country national suffering from a serious illness to leave the territory of a Member State, where the enforcement of that decision may expose that third country national to a serious risk of grave and irreversible deterioration in his state of health, and 
  • does not make provision, in so far as possible, for the basic needs of such a third country national to be met, in order to ensure that emergency health care and essential treatment of illness are in fact made available during the period in which that Member State is required to postpone removal of the third country national following the lodging of the appeal.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

 

45. None the less, the characteristics of such a remedy must be determined in a manner that is consistent with Article 47 of the Charter, which constitutes a reaffirmation of the principle of effective judicial protection (see, to that effect, judgments in Unibet, C‑432/05, EU:C:2007:163, paragraph 37, and Agrokonsulting-04, C‑93/12, EU:C:2013:432, paragraph 59), and provides that everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by EU law are violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in that article.

46. It should be noted in that connection that Article 19(2) of the Charter states, inter alia, that no one may be removed to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

47. It is the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, which, in accordance with Article 52(3) of the Charter, must be taken into account in interpreting Article 19(2) of the Charter, that, while non-nationals subject to a decision authorising their removal cannot, in principle, claim any entitlement to remain in the territory of a State in order to continue to benefit from medical, social or other forms of assistance and services provided by that State, a decision to remove a foreign national suffering from a serious physical or mental illness to a country where the facilities for the treatment of the illness are inferior to those available in that State may raise an issue under Article 3 ECHR in very exceptional cases, where the humanitarian grounds against removal are compelling (see, inter alia, European Court of Human Rights, judgment in N. v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 26565/05, § 42, ECHR 2008).

48. In the very exceptional cases in which the removal of a third country national suffering a serious illness to a country where appropriate treatment is not available would infringe the principle of non-refoulement, Member States cannot therefore, as provided for in Article 5 of Directive 2008/115, taken in conjunction with Article 19(2) of the Charter, proceed with such removal.

49. The enforcement of a return decision entailing the removal of a third country national suffering from a serious illness to a country in which appropriate treatment is not available may therefore constitute, in certain cases, an infringement of Article 5 of Directive 2008/115.

50. Those very exceptional cases are characterised by the seriousness and irreparable nature of the harm that may be caused by the removal of a third country national to a country in which there is a serious risk that he will be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. In order for the appeal to be effective in respect of a return decision whose enforcement may expose the third country national concerned to a serious risk of grave and irreversible deterioration in his state of health, that third country national must be able to avail himself, in such circumstances, of a remedy with suspensive effect, in order to ensure that the return decision is not enforced before a competent authority has had the opportunity to examine an objection alleging infringement of Article 5 of Directive 2008/115, taken in conjunction with Article 19(2) of the Charter.

51. That interpretation is supported by the explanations relating to Article 47 of the Charter, to the effect that the first paragraph of that article is based on Article 13 ECHR (review judgment in Arango Jaramillo and Others v EIB, C‑334/12 RX II, EU:C:2013:134, paragraph 42).

52. Indeed, the European Court of Human Rights has held that, when a State decides to return a foreign national to a country where, there are substantial grounds for believing, he will be exposed to a real risk of ill-treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR, the right to an effective remedy provided for in Article 13 ECHR requires that a remedy enabling suspension of enforcement of the measure authorising removal should, ipso jure, be available to the persons concerned (see, inter alia, European Court of Human Rights, judgments in Gebremedhin [Gaberamadhien] v. France, no. 25389/05, § 67, ECHR 2007-II, and Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy [GC], no. 27765/09, § 200, ECHR 2012).

53. It follows from the foregoing that Articles 5 and 13 of Directive 2008/115, taken in conjunction with Articles 19(2) and 47 of the Charter, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which does not make provision for a remedy with suspensive effect in respect of a return decision whose enforcement may expose the third country national concerned to a serious risk of grave and irreversible deterioration in his state of health.