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United Kingdom / Court of Appeal, Civil Division / T3/2016/0278

AZ v Secretary of State for the Home Department

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
27/01/2017

Key facts of the case: 

AZ was a refugee present in the UK who had been refused a Convention Travel Document to visit his sick father in Jordan. The Secretary of State did not give reasons for her decision to issue this refusal. Once judicial review proceedings were issued, the Home Office wrote to AZ informing him that his request had been denied on national security grounds, as he was assessed to hold Islamic extremist views and had expressed a desire to travel to Syria to engage in fighting. AZ’s claim for a Convention Travel Document was pursuant to Council Directive 2004/83/EC (the Qualification Directive), superseded by 2011/95/EU, which did not include procedural protections. This adopted the principles of Article 28 of the Geneva Convention, which equally did not include explicit procedural protections. This was in contrast to the expulsion of refugees, dealt with under Directive 2004/38/EU (the Citizenship Directive), based on Article 32 of the Geneva Convention, both of which did contain explicit procedural protections. A previous case under the Citizenship Directive, ZZ (France) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (C-300/11), relying on Article 47 of the Charter, had found that ZZ was entitled to be given the ‘essence’ of the grounds upon which the decision against him was made (ZZ disclosure). In that case, ZZ had been refused entry into the UK.

Outcome of the case:

The appeal was dismissed. The right to a Convention Travel Document in the present case was not of the same importance as the freedom of movement rights in question in ZZ. ZZ had not established a general requirement for a certain standard of proof and was limited to its own specific circumstances, concerning a right of paramount importance. The procedure in the present case therefore satisfied the requirements of Article 47. Further, ZZ’s case concerned the Citizenship Directive, which, in contrast to the Qualification Directive, did contain explicit procedural safeguards and a right to be informed of the reasons for decisions. This Directive was based on Article 32 of the Geneva Convention, which equally had procedural safeguards. The Court of Justice of the European Union had thus interpreted the provisions in the light of Article 47 of the Charter in establishing that ZZ was entitled to the ‘essence’ of the grounds for the decision against him. Such interpretation was not applicable to the Qualification Directive. This case was therefore distinguished from ZZ as it concerned a comparatively less important right under EU law and was based on a directive which did not contain explicit procedural safeguards.