Germany / Federal Administrative Court / 1 C 4.20

Unknown Afghan asylum seeker vs. the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees
Policy area
Asylum and migration
Deciding body type
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding body
Federal Administrative Court
Decision date
ECLI (European case law identifier)
  • Germany / Federal Administrative Court / 1 C 4.20

    Key facts of the case: 

    The applicant fled to Germany and applied for asylum because he was threatened by the Taliban in Afghanistan due to his work for a UN aid programme. Section 4 of the Asylum Act (Asylgesetz) grants subsidiary protection if a civilian faces a serious individual threat to life or integrity in his or her country of origin as a result of indiscriminate violence in the context of an international or internal armed conflict. However, section 3e of the Act precludes this if the person has no well-founded fear of persecution or access to protection from persecution in any part of his or her country of origin. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees rejected the application, arguing that internal protection would be available to him in at least three cities in Afghanistan. In any case, the authority held that the minimum subsistence level protected by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights would be guaranteed there. The applicant legally contested the decision and argued that he could only reasonably be expected to settle there if he was able to participate economically and culturally in a manner comparable to the local population. An administrative court confirmed the decision of the asylum authority. Against this court decision the applicant lodged an appeal with the Federal Administrative Court. 


    Key legal question raised by the Court: 

    The crucial legal question was which standards must be met for a city to be classified as a place of internal protection.


    Outcome of the case: 

    The Federal Administrative Court considered a part of the country to be safe if, when taking a comprehensive, evaluative view of the general and individual personal circumstances at the place of internal protection, there is a considerable probability that there will be no other dangers or disadvantages which, in terms of their intensity and severity, are equivalent to an impairment of a legal interest relevant to international protection, and if there is also no other threat of intolerable hardship. The Court held that the protection of the economic subsistence minimum is limited to the protection against inhuman or degrading treatment in accordance with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is also in line with the requirements of Directive 2011/95/EU, Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the related case law. In the light of this reasoning, the Court confirmed the assessment of the lower administrative court that at least three Afghan cities fulfilled these requirements and that, thus, the applicant’s application for subsidiary protection could be rejected.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter

    49) However, this case law does not concern the interpretation of Article 8 (1) of Directive 2011/95/EU; it is – ostensibly – about the responsibility of the Member States to assess an application for protection or the power to refer a protection seeker to another Member State for protection. According to this case law, an inadmissibility decision does not prevent the non-observance of secondary law guarantees (for example from Art. 26 et seq. of Directive 2011/95/EU); it is only excluded in the case of other protection pursuant to Art. 33 para. 2 lit. a of Directive 2013/32/EU if the living conditions that would await him or her in the other Member State as a recognised refugee would expose him or her to a serious risk of being subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Art. 4 CFR. From the perspective of refugee or human rights law, however, the preservation of the order of responsibility under EU law between the Member States is not to be bound to higher preconditions, limited to the preservation of the minimum level following from Art. 3 ECHR, which in this respect is identical to Art. 4 CFR, than the reference to internal protection in the state of origin. The fact that it is possible within the EU to enforce the rights guaranteed under EU law through the legal channels regularly opened does not change this. In this respect, EU law goes beyond what is required by refugee and human rights law.


    59) This human rights approach, which is oriented towards safeguarding what is required under human rights law – in this case under Article 3 of the ECHR – in order to avoid indirect coercion to return to the persecution areas as a result of serious human rights violations, therefore does not adopt a possibly more far-reaching view of No. 29 UNHCR Directive 2003. The Senate assumes that the bodies of the European Union involved in the legislation were aware of this directive and deliberately refrained from adopting it because it was not required by Article 18 CFR or Article 78 TFEU.

  • Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language)

    49) Allerdings betrifft diese Rechtsprechung nicht die Auslegung des Art. 8 Abs. 1 RL 2011/95/EU; es geht - vordergründig - um die Zuständigkeit der Mitgliedstaaten für die Beurteilung eines Schutzgesuches bzw. die Befugnis, einen Schutzsuchenden auf die Inanspruchnahme der Schutzgewähr durch einen anderen Mitgliedstaat zu verweisen. Nach dieser Rechtsprechung hindert eine Unzulässigkeitsentscheidung nicht die Nichtbeachtung sekundärrechtlicher Garantien (etwa aus Art. 26 ff. RL 2011/95/EU); sie ist bei anderweitiger Schutzgewähr nach Art. 33 Abs. 2 Buchst. a RL 2013/32/EU erst dann ausgeschlossen, wenn die Lebensverhältnisse, die ihn in dem anderen Mitgliedstaat als anerkannter Flüchtling erwarten würden, ihn der ernsthaften Gefahr aussetzten, eine unmenschliche oder erniedrigende Behandlung im Sinne von Art. 4 GRC zu erfahren. Die Wahrung der unionsrechtlichen Zuständigkeitsordnung zwischen den Mitgliedstaaten ist aus flüchtlings- oder menschenrechtlicher Perspektive indes nicht an höhere, auf die Wahrung des aus Art. 3 EMRK folgenden, insoweit mit Art. 4 GRC identischen Mindestniveaus beschränkte Voraussetzungen zu binden als der Verweis auf den internen Schutz im Herkunftsstaat. Dass innerhalb der EU die Möglichkeit besteht, die unionsrechtlich garantierten Rechte auf dem regelmäßig eröffneten Rechtsweg durchzusetzen, ändert daran nichts. Denn insoweit geht das Unionsrecht über das flüchtlings- und menschenrechtlich Gebotene hinaus.


    59) Dieser an der Wahrung des menschenrechtlich - hier aus Art. 3 EMRK - Gebotenen zur Vermeidung eines durch schwerwiegende Menschenrechtsverletzungen bewirkten indirekten Zwanges zur Rückkehr in die Verfolgungsgebiete orientierte, menschenrechtliche Ansatz übernimmt mithin nicht eine möglicherweise weitergehende Auffassung der Nr. 29 UNHCR-Richtlinie 2003. Der Senat geht dabei davon aus, dass diese Richtlinie den an der Rechtsetzung beteiligten Organen der Europäischen Union bekannt gewesen und auf deren Übernahme bewusst, weil insoweit nicht als von Art. 18 GRC bzw. Art. 78 AEUV geboten, verzichtet worden ist.