Slovenia / Administrative Court / I U 166/2017 Appeal by an Afghani national of a decision of the Ministry of Interior

Key facts of the case:

The appellant is an Afghani national, who is seeking international protection in Slovenia. He entered the EU in Bulgaria, where he applied for international protection, but then fled the country due to what he describes as insufferable conditions in the admission centres. He then arrived to Slovenia and filed for international protection.The Ministry of Interior (the defendant) conducted a formal proceeding to determine whether the appellant should be returned to Bulgaria. Besides other claims, and references to foreign court judgments, the appellant offered several news reports as evidence of unsuitable conditions in Bulgarian centres. The Ministry of Interior did not research these claims, but rather dismissed the presented evidence referencing Bulgarian statutory law and stating, that the conditions described in the articles were due to massive migrations at the time of reporting (end of 2015). The Ministry of Interior decided that the appellant should be returned to Bulgaria. The appeallant appealed this decision and filed a suit at the Administrative Court (Upravno sodišče).

With regard to the applicable legislation, there are several national and European sources beyond the Charter and the Constitution, as well as several case law referenced in the decision: International Protection Act (Zakon o mednarodni zaščiti), General Administrative Procedure Act (Zakon o splošnem upravnem postopku), Regulation (EU) no 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast), 26 June 2013.

Outcome of the case: 

The Administrative court quashed the decision of the Ministry of Interior and returned the case to the Ministry of Interior for a renewed proceeding and a new decision.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

On several occasions in comparable cases, the Court has expressed the view that, in accordance with point 19 of the Dublin III Regulation, in order to ensure the effective protection of the rights of the persons concerned, in particular in accordance with Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, legal protection measures and the right to an effective remedy concerning the decision to surrender to the responsible Member State need to be implemented. In order to ensure respect for international law, an effective remedy against such decisions must include not only an examination of the application of this Regulation, but also a legal and factual situation in the Member State to which the applicant for international protection is to be surrendered.

By doing so, the burden of proof was shifted to the defendant's side, which, however, did not convincingly satisfy its part of the burden of proof merely with the generalized argument regarding the four submitted web articles, claiming that they were all directed only to problems during the immigrant wave of refugees that did not indicate existence systemic deficiencies in relation to the asylum procedure in Bulgaria and the conditions for the reception of applicants that could pose a risk of non-human or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the EU Charter, and leaving aside the personal circumstances experienced by the complainant in Bulgaria, which were not even included in the defendant’s evaluation of evidence.

It is also premature to conclude that there are no reasons to indicate the existence of systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure in Bulgaria and the conditions for the reception of applicants that could cause a risk of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the EU Charter, since such a conclusion is not adequately reasoned in accordance with the standards developed in administrative case-law, in particular in the light of the views of the Supreme Court, which, in a comparable case in judgment no. I Up 60/2015, inter alia, explicitly stated that, in such a situation, the defendant must, in the case where the applicant for international protection claims the existence of systemic deficiencies as to the conditions for admission that might constitute a violation of Article 4 of the EU Charter, due to the reversal of the burden of proof, determine by itself the situation with regard to these circumstances and only then decide on the surrender. This means that it must carry out a review of the legal and factual situation in the country concerned concerning this issue disputed by the two parties. A mere summary of the provisions of the substantive law governing asylum law in the Republic of Bulgaria, from which it follows that Bulgaria has an established system of international protection, and the defendant's view that the submitted web pages only show the congestion of accommodation in the (past) time of the refugee wave in Bulgaria, is undoubtedly insufficient to test the accuracy and legality of the defendant's decision, given the established standards of justification and the plaintiff’s claim in the specific case.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

Sodišce je že veckrat v primerljivih zadevah izrazilo stališce, da je, v skladu z 19. uvodno izjavo Uredbe Dublin III, za zagotovitev ucinkovite zašcite pravic zadevnih oseb, zlasti v skladu s clenom 47 Listine Evropske unije o temeljnih pravicah, treba vzpostaviti pravne zašcitne ukrepe in pravico do ucinkovitega pravnega sredstva v zvezi z odlocitvijo o predaji v odgovorno državo clanico. Da se zagotovi spoštovanje mednarodnega prava pa mora ucinkovito pravno sredstvo proti takim odlocitvam obsegati ne zgolj preucitev uporabe te uredbe, pac pa tudi pravno in dejansko stanje v državi clanici, v katero se predaja prosilca za mednarodno zašcito.

S tem se je dokazno breme prevalilo na stran tožene stranke, ki pa svojemu delu dokaznega bremena ni prepricljivo zadostila zgolj s posplošeno trditvijo glede navedenih štirih predloženih spletnih clankov, da so vsi usmerjeni le na problematiko v casu imigrantskega vala beguncev, ki da ne nakazujejo obstoja sistemskih pomanjkljivosti v zvezi z azilnim postopkom v Bolgariji in pogoji za sprejem prosilcev, ki bi lahko povzrocile nevarnost necloveškega ali poniževalnega ravnanja v smislu 4. clena Listine EU, pri cemer pa osebnih okolišcin, ki jih je doživel tožnik v Bolgariji, sploh ni vkljucila v dokazno oceno.

Prav tako preuranjen je tudi zakljucek, da niso izkazani razlogi, ki bi nakazovali obstoj sistemskih pomanjkljivosti v zvezi z azilnim postopkom v Bolgariji in pogoji za sprejem prosilcev, ki bi lahko povzrocili nevarnost necloveškega ali poniževalnega ravnanja v smislu 4. clena Listine EU, saj takšen zakljucek ni ustrezno obrazložen v skladu s standardi, ki so se v upravno sodni praksi izoblikovali v zvezi z obrazložitvijo upravnih aktov zlasti ob upoštevanju stališc Vrhovnega sodišca, ki je v primerljivi zadevi v sodbi št. I Up 60/2015, med drugim, izrecno navedlo, da mora tožena stranka ob takem dejanskem stanju, torej v primeru, ko prosilec za mednarodno zašcito zatrjuje obstoj sistemskih pomanjkljivosti glede pogojev za sprejem, ki bi lahko zanj pomenili kršitev 4. clena Listine EU, zaradi obrnjenega dokaznega bremena sama ugotoviti stanje glede teh okolišcin in šele nato odlociti o predaji. To pa pomeni, da mora opraviti pregled pravnega in dejanskega stanja v zadevni državi glede tega med strankama spornega vprašanja. Zgolj povzetek dolocb materialnega zakona, ki ureja azilno pravo v Republiki Bolgariji in iz katerih naj bi izhajalo, da ima Bolgarija uveljavljen sistem mednarodne zašcite, ter stališce tožene stranke, da predloženi spletni clanki kažejo le na prezasedenost nastanitvenih kapacitet v (minulem) casu begunskega vala v Bolgariji, pa za preizkus pravilnosti in zakonitosti odlocitve tožene stranke nedvomno ne zadošca, glede na uveljavljene standarde obrazložitve in tožbene ugovore v konkretnem primeru.

Language: 
Slovenian
Deciding body (original language): 
Upravno sodišče Republike Slovenije
Language: 
Slovenian