Lithuania / Supreme Administrative Court / A-1823-822/2015 A. S. v The Border Guard Service

Key facts of the case:

The applicant was an alien who was detained for his illegal entry and stay in the territory of Lithuania (he came to Lithuania from Latvia with no identity or travel documents). Initially he was detained by the District Court of Lazdijai Region on the basis of Article 113 (1) (2) (illegal entry and stay in the territory of Lithuania). Later the applicant lodged the application for asylum to the Migration Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania. The Migration Department decided to examine his asylum application in substance and granted him temporary territorial protection. After such decision, the applicant applied to the District Court of Švenčionys Region  for a review of his detention. The court rejected his application and argued that, since the applicant submitted his asylum application only after a certain period of time, and after freely travelling in other EU Member States in which he did not submit an asylum application, he abused the asylum procedure in order to avoid his return to the country of origin and this fact justified his further detention on the basis of other grounds of detention (Article 113 (2) of the law).

Outcome of the case: 

During the appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania annulled the decision of the lower court and ordered release of the applicant from detention. With regards to the argument concerning abuse of the asylum procedure, the Supreme Administrative Court pointed to the fact that the Migration Department under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania  granted the applicant temporary territorial protection. The claim by the Border Guard Service that due to the fact that the identity of the applicant was not established there were sufficient grounds for his further detention was not accepted by the Supreme Administrative Court. The Court in fact argued that no active steps had been taken by state institutions to establish the true identity of the asylum seeker and therefore this ground for detention may not be used for indefinite period of time for justification of the right to liberty.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

 

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania affirms that the ground for detention in order to set and (or) to verify the identity (citizenship) of the alien and (or) to find out the reasons on which he bases his application for asylum, may reasonably be invoked only for a certain period of time. In such cases, it must be clear and it should be possible to verify that actions were taken by the competent authority in order to ascertain the applicant’s motives. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union establishes the right to good administration for every person, which means that the authorities should handle matters impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time (Article 41 (1) of the Charter). The principle of good administration requires that the alien’s application for asylum be not considered in an unreasonably long period of time and only narrowly formally (see e.g. the Judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania of 19 May 2014 in administrative case No. N822-70/2014).

Although when an applicant submits a request for asylum, authorities do not have access to his or her country of origin for authentication, there is no information in the case file that any actions were taken in order to establish or confirm the identity of the applicant. At the appellate court hearing, this fact (that no actions were taken during the detention period in order to establish the identity of the applicant) was confirmed by the parties to the proceedings. As mentioned above, the Migration Department was of the opinion that a submitted copy of documents raises no reasonable doubts as regards their authenticity. All the more so, the District Court of Švenčionys Region, when reviewing the grounds of detention of the applicant established by the District Court of Lazdijai Region (Article 113(1) (2) of the Law) considered it obsolete and provided no arguments whatsoever indicating as a ground for the applicant’s further detention Article 113 (2) of the Law.

Deciding body (original language): 
Lietuvos vyriausiasis administracinis teismas