Slovenia / Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia / I U 722/2018-15 Claimant: applicant A.A ; defendant: the Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of the Interior.

Key facts of the case:

After coming to Turkey from Algeria and crossing Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia, the applicant arrived to Slovenia. He was spotted by Slovenian police officers and transferred to the police station where he applied for asylum. For the purpose of determining his identity and determining certain elements of his asylum claim, he was transferred to the Centre for Aliens. The applicant maintained that he is a Berber with no rights in Algeria and member of MAK (an opposition political party) who was imprisoned for six months due to his political activities. His assertions were conflicting and insufficient and thus very improbable. Due to the fact that he applied for asylum in Montenegro and in Bosnia, but then left the two countries and that his statements were found questionable, the administrative authority decided that he would abscond if his movement was not limited to the premises of the Centre for Aliens. By keeping him in the Centre for Aliens the competent authority was aiming to determine the merits of his asylum claim once and for all.

 

In deciding whether the detention of the claimant was lawful, the Administrative Court relied on international, EU and national constitutional legal standards regarding the prohibition of torture, right to effective judicial protection, right to personal liberty and right to personal freedom. It found that the detention in the present case was illegal and annulled the contested decision.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

The key question was the interpretation of legal standards for the deprivation of liberty (detention) of asylum seekers under international, EU and national law.

Outcome of the case:

The Administrative Court found that no reasons for detention existed and still do not exist. Hence, it annulled the decision of the administrative authority which meant that the applicant was released from the Centre for Aliens.

 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

31. Based on the claimant’s statements regarding the conditions of detention in the Centre for Aliens in Postojna and the explanations of the defendant in from the contested decision, especially its explanations in the reply to the action, the Administrative Court finds that the claimant’s movement is limited and a measure of limitation of personal liberty is being implemented in circumstances, which are standardized in such cases. Administrative and constitutional judicial practice in Slovenia has already accepted the relevance of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (Hereinafter: ECtHR), in line with which the right to freedom of movement  is applicable in the context of restriction to a certain territorial area [reference omitted], area of a certain part of the state [reference omitted], to the place (city) of residence [reference omitted], to a territory of one state [reference omitted] and equally in the case where the applicant was restricted on the area of an island and within it to an area of 2,5 square kilometers [reference omitted]. In the case where the applicant was detained within a special health facility, the ECtHR considered the case as an interference with the right to personal liberty and not as a restriction on movement [reference omitted]. Consequently, and due to numerous judgments in connection with the detainment of asylum seekers or illegal migrants before the ECtHR, based on the view, that when evaluating, whether the case involves a deprivation of liberty in connection with the provision of Art. 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter: ECHR), the type, duration, effects and manner of implementation of the measure in question have to be taken into account and that there the difference between the measures of deprivation of liberty and limitation of movement is in the intensity of the measure [reference omitted], by considering the provisions of Arts. 6(1) and (3) of the Treaty of the EU, provisions of Arts. 68[1] and 52(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union [reference omitted] and initial statement no. 10 of the Directive 2013/22/EU on standards for the reception of applicants for international protection, the contested act on the detention of the claimant has to be considered as a measure, constitution an interference with the personal freedom and liberty of the claimant from Art. 19 of the Constitution (or Art. 6 of the EU Charter on fundamental freedoms and Art. 5 of ECHR) and not as a measure, constituting a limitation on movement from Art. 32. Of the Constitution. This is in confirmed by the comparable case-law of the Constitutional Court [reference omitted]. The fact that the European legislator uses the notion “deprivation of freedom of movement” (Art. 2(h) of the Directive 2013/33/EU laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection, [omitted], hereinafter; the Retention Directive), as does the defendant in the contested decision and as the Slovenian legislator  in the provision of Art. 84. Of ZMZ-1, does not outweigh the abovementioned legal sources. Indeed, even the CJEU in its previous case-law, without even referencing the factual circumstances of the execution of the detention, proceeded from the legal standpoint that the detention of international protection seekers under the provisions of Arts. 8(3)(a) and (b) of Directive 2013/33/EU [reference omitted], which are relevant also in the present administrative dispute, and also detention under the provision of Art. 8(3)(e) of Directive 2013/33/EU [reference omitted], constitute deprivation of liberty, falling under the provision of Art. 6 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and not just a limitation of movement.

32. At the hearing, by examining the claimant and explanations of the defendant in the reply to the action, summarized in this judgment, from the perspective of Art. 3 of ECHR and Art. 4. Of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, verified the conditions in the Center for aliens and the regime of the claimant’s deprivation of liberty. Based on that it found that the conditions under the detention regime are very probably still within the binding standards of Directive 2013/33/EU and standards, developed by the ECtHR in similar cases in the context of protection of the right to prohibition of inhuman treatment of foreigners and asylum seekers from Art. 3 of the ECHR and Art. 4 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights [reference omitted]. Certain doubts were raised by the claimants claim at the hearing that five persons are staying in a room, roughly 2,5 x 3m big. This claim was, also based on his non-verbal communication at the hearing, very rough, however it remains relevant, since if there is not at least 3m2 of space to move freely (not considering furniture in the room), under the case-law of ECtHR it might be sufficient to find that the person is deprived of liberty in inhuman conditions in the sense of Art. 3 of the ECHR, corresponding to Art. 4 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, and in that case other elements, such as: access to courtyard once a day, access to common areas, recreational possibility, room daylight, ventilation, heating, hygiene, food, do not have to be taken into account [reference omitted]. In absence of a more specific objection of the claimant’s representative regarding minimum living area, that should be available to the claimant, and considering the undisputed fact that all other elements, important for an evaluation from the perspective of Art. 3 of the ECHR and Art. 4 od the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, are unproblematic, while the defendant stated in the reply to the action that the room since at the center is 15m2, the Court did not find any reasons to revoke the contested decision based on At. 4 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

33. In addition, in this administrative dispute the Court has to check the legality of the decision of the defendant on the detention in the time of the pronunciation of the contested act. However, due to the effective judicial protection of the right enshrined in Art. 6 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Court has to decide, whether the conditions for detention are fulfilled in the time of the hearing and judicial consideration of the case before the Administrative Court [reference omitted]. Furthermore, in the Mahdi case, dealing with the evaluation of legality of the extension of detention under the Return Directive 2008/115/EC, the EU Court decided that the judicial body, deciding on the extension of detention, must be enabled to decide on all factual and legal elements relevant to decide, whether the extension is justified, which requires a detailed examination of the factual circumstances in each case. If the initial detention is no longer justified, the competent judicial body must have the possibility to replace the decision of the administrative or, in a corresponding case, judicial body, and decide on the possibility of ordering a replacement measure or releasing the concerned third country citizen. The Court must have the option to, besides the facts and evidence, invoked by the administrative body, considers any possible remarks by the concerned citizen and have the possibility to determine any other elements, relevant for the decision, if it deems it necessary [reference omitted]. Without that, the right to an effective remedy before a court from Art. 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would be ineffective. The provision of Art. 9(3) of the Reception Directive regarding the judicial review of the lawfulness of detention namely has to be interpreted in line with fundamental freedoms and other general principles of EU law [reference omitted].



[1] See the footnote 1 above.

 

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

[…]

31. Na podlagi izpovedbe tožnika na zaslišanju o razmerah pridržanja v Centru za tujce Postojna in pojasnil tožene stranke v izpodbijanem aktu ter zlasti njenih pojasnil v odgovoru na tožbo sodišče ugotavlja, da je tožniku gibanje omejeno oziroma da se izvaja ukrep omejitve osebne svobode v okoliščinah, ki so standardne v tovrstnih primerih. Upravno-sodna in ustavno-sodna praksa v Sloveniji je v tovrstnih zadevah že sprejela relevantnost prakse Evropskega sodišča za človekove pravice (v nadaljevanju: ESČP), po kateri pride pravica do svobode gibanja v poštev v kontekstu omejevanja na določeno ozemeljsko področje1, na področje določenega dela države2, na kraj (mesto) prebivanja3, na ozemlje ene države,4 in enako velja tudi za primer, ko je bila pritožniku omejena svoboda gibanja na otoku in znotraj tega na okrog 2,5 kvadratna kilometra.5 V primeru, ko je bil pritožnik zaprt znotraj posebne zdravstvene institucije, je ESČP primer obravnavalo kot poseg v pravico do osebne svobode in ne kot omejitev gibanja.6 Zato in zaradi številnih sodb v zvezi z pridržanji prosilcev za azil ali nezakonitih migrantov pred ESČP, ki temeljijo na stališču, da je treba pri oceni, ali gre za odvzem svobode v zvezi z določilom 5. člena Konvencije o varstvu človekovih pravic in temeljnih svoboščin (v nadaljevanju: EKČP) upoštevati vrsto, trajanje ukrepa in ostale dejanske okoliščine načina izvajanja ukrepa v konkretnem primeru in da je razlika med ukrepom odvzema svobode in omejitvijo gibanja v intenziteti posega,7 je treba ob upoštevanju določil člena 6(1) in (3) Pogodbe o EU, določil členov 68[1] in 52(3) Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah9 ter ter uvodne izjave št. 10 iz Direktive 2013/33/EU o standardih za sprejem prosilcev za mednarodno zaščito, tudi izpodbijani akt o pridržanju tožnika, šteti kot ukrep, ki pomeni poseg v osebno svobodo oziroma prostost tožnika iz 19. člena Ustave (ali 6. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah oziroma 5. člena EKČP) in ne za ukrep omejitve gibanja iz 32. člena Ustave. To potrjuje tudi primerljiva praksa Ustavnega sodišča.10 Dejstvo, da evropski zakonodajalec uporablja pojem „odvzem svobode gibanja“ (člen 2(h) Direktive 2013/33/EU o standardih za sprejem prosilcev za mednarodno zaščito, Uradni list EU, L 180/96, 29. 6. 2013; v nadaljevanju Direktiva o sprejemu), kakor ta ukrep v izpodbijanem aktu imenuje tudi tožena stranka in kot ga poimenuje tudi slovenski zakonodajalec v določilu 84. člena ZMZ-1, ne odtehta zgoraj omenjenih pravnih virov. Tudi Sodišče EU je namreč v dosedanji sodni praksi, celo brez sklicevanja na dejanske okoliščine izvajanja ukrepa pridržanja, izhajalo iz pravnega stališča, da gre pri pridržanju prosilcev za mednarodno zaščito po določilih člena 8(3)(a) in (b) Direktive 2013/33/EU,11 ki sta relevantni določbi tudi v obravnavanem upravnem sporu, in tudi pri pridržanju po določilu člena 8(3)(e) Direktive 2013/33/EU,12 za odvzem osebne svobode, ki ga je treba obravnavati po določilu 6. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah in ne gre zgolj za omejitev gibanja.

32. Na glavni obravnavi je sodišče preko zaslišanja tožnika in pojasnil tožene stranke zlasti v odgovoru na tožbo, ki so povzeti v tej sodbi, z vidika standardov iz 3. člena EKČP oziroma 4. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah preverilo, kakšne so razmere v Centru za tujce, in kakšen je režim, kjer je tožniku odvzeta prostost. Na tej podlagi je ugotovilo, da so razmere v režimu pridržanja zelo verjetno še vedno znotraj obvezujočih standardov iz Direktive 2013/33/EU in standardov, ki jih je razvilo ESČP v tovrstnih primerih v kontekstu varovanja pravice do prepovedi nečloveškega ravnanja tujcev oziroma prosilcev za azil iz 3. člena EKČP oziroma 4. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah.13 Določen dvom vzbuja navedba tožnika na zaslišanju na glavni xobravnavi, da v sobi biva pet oseb, soba pa je velika približno 2,5m X 3m. Ta navedba tožnika je bila tudi po njegovi neverbalni komunikaciji na glavni obravnavi zelo približna, vendar je relevantna, kajti v primeru, če pridržani nima vsaj 3m2 prostora za prosto gibanje (brez upoštevanja pohištvenih predmetov v sobi), potem je to po praksi ESČP lahko zadostna okoliščina za ugotovitev, da je pridržanemu odvzeta prostost v nečloveških razmerah v smislu 3. člena EKČP, ki ustreza 4. členu Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah, in v tem primeru ni treba upoštevati tudi drugih dejavnikov, kot so: dostop do dvorišča enkrat dnevno, dostop do skupnih prostorov, možnost rekreacije, dnevna svetloba v sobi, ustrezno prezračevanje, kurjava, higiena, prehrana.14 Ob odsotnosti natančnejšega ugovora pooblaščenca tožnika glede minimalnega obsega prostora, ki bi moral biti na voljo pridržanemu in ob nespornem dejstvu, da so vsi ostali dejavniki, ki vplivajo na presojo z vidika 3. člena EKČP oziroma 4. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah neproblematični, tožena stranka pa je v odgovoru na tožbo navedla, da so sobe v centru za tujce velike 15m2, sodišče z obravnavanega vidika 4. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah ni našlo razlogov za odpravo izpodbijanega sklepa.

33. Poleg navedenega mora sodišča v tem upravnem sporu preveriti zakonitost odločitve tožene stranke o pridržanju v času izreka izpodbijanega akta. Vendar pa mora sodišče zaradi učinkovitega sodnega varstva pravice iz 6. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah presoditi tudi, ali so pogoji za pridržanje podani tudi v času glavne obravnave oziroma v času sodne presoje pred Upravnim sodiščem.15 Nadalje, v zadevi Mahdi, kjer je šlo za presojo zakonitosti podaljšanja pridržanja po Direktivi o vračanju 2008/115/ES, je Sodišče EU odločilo, da mora biti sodnemu organu, ki odloča o predlogu za podaljšanje pridržanja, omogočeno, da odloča o vseh dejanskih in pravnih elementih, pomembnih za ugotovitev, ali je podaljšanje pridržanja upravičeno, za kar je treba temeljito preučiti dejansko stanje vsakega primera. Če začetno pridržanje z vidika zahtev ni več upravičeno, mora biti pristojnemu sodnemu organu omogočeno, da odločitev upravnega organa, ali pa v ustreznem primeru, sodnega organa, ki je odredil začetno pridržanje, nadomesti s svojo, in da odloči o možnosti odreditve nadomestnega ukrepa ali izpustitve zadevnega državljana tretje države. Sodišče mora imeti možnost, da poleg dejstev in dokazov, na katere se sklicuje upravni organ, upošteva tudi morebitne pripombe zadevnega državljana ter mora imeti možnost, da ugotavlja vse druge elemente, ki so pomembni za odločitev, če meni, da je to potrebno.16 Brez tega bi bila namreč pravica do pravnega sredstva pred sodiščem iz 47. člena Listine EU o temeljnih pravicah neučinkovita. Določbo člena 9(3) Direktive o sprejemu o sodni preučitvi zakonitosti pridržanja je namreč treba razlagati v skladu temeljnimi pravicami ali z drugimi splošnimi načeli prava Unije.17

[…]



[1] Reference to Article 68 of the Charter is evidently a typing mistake. From the context of the judgment, it can be fairly assumed that the Court refers to Article 18 of the Charter.

 

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