Case summary

Deciding Body
Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia
Upravno sodišče Republike Slovenije
Slovenia
National case details
Date of decision: 29.07.16
Registration ID: I U 1102/2016
Instance: Appellate on fact and law
Case status: Pending
Area of law
Migration and asylum


Dublin Regulation
Detention
Safeguards for access to justice
The obligation of the administration to give reasons for its..., Right to an effective remedy before a tribunal
Relevant principles applied
Effectiveness, Proportionality

Identification of the case

Fundamental rights involved
  • Right to liberty and security (art. 6 CFREU)
  • Freedom of movement and of residence (art. 45 CFREU)
National law sources
  • Article 68, Aliens Act 2
  • Articles 55, 82, 84, Act on International Protection
  • Article 32, Act on Administrative Dispute-1
  • Articles 15(3), 19, 32 of the Constitution
EU law sources
  • Recitals (27), (54), Articles 9, 26, Asylum Procedures Directive
  • Recitals (15-20), Articles 2(h), 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, Peception COnditions Directive
  • Articles 2(1)(n), 28, 49, Dublin III Regulation
  • Recital (9), Articles 3(7), 15, Returns Directive
  • Article 6 and 53 CFREU
  • Articles 78, 288(2) TFEU
ECHR provisions
Article 5(1)(b), 5(2), 5(4), 5(5), Article 2 of Protocol no. 4

Summary of the case

Facts of the case
The Asylum authority limited the Applicant’s freedom of movement for the purpose of a Dublin transfer. The Applicant in the past left the open reception center twice and was already deported to Germany under the Dublin Regulation after a second attempt (first attempt of deportation failed because he absconded). The Applicant returned to Slovenia and applied for asylum for the fourth time. The Applicant stated that he does not want to go to Germany and that he would always come back. The Asylum authority concluded that he presents a serious risk of absconding.
Type of enforcement
  • Administrative judicial enforcement
Measures, actions, remedies claimed/applied
Appeal was rejected
Reasoning (legal principles applied)

The Court took the opportunity to address all legal questions regarding deprivation of liberty for the purpose of a Dublin transfer.

  1. The basic sources of law for assessing the legality of detention Relevant sources are: Dublin Regulation (Article 28), EU Charter (Article 6), ECHR (Articles 5(1)(f), 5(1)(b), 5(2), 5(4) and 5(5) and Geneva Convention (Article 31). Regarding the latter, the use of Article 28 of the Dublin III Regulation must be in accordance with the material conditions of detention under Article 31 of the Geneva Convention. In the present case the relevant provision is the second paragraph of Article 31, under which the signatory states may not restrict the movement of the applicant, unless it is "necessary", or such restrictions can only be imposed until the status of an applicant in the country is legalized or until the applicant has not received permission to enter another country. Since according to EU law, an asylum seeker who is under the Dublin procedure is legally on the territory of Slovenia, the essential question for the Court to assess remains whether detention is necessary.
  2. The question whether the contested measure constitutes a restriction of freedom of movement or deprivation of personal liberty During the court hering, the Applicant described the circumstances of the detention, among others, that he cannot leave the Centre for Foreigners whenever he wants. The Court held that the contested detention must be assessed in light of the right to personal liberty under Article 19 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the Charter and Article 5 of the ECHR and not from the perspective of the right to freedom of movement. Since the applicant as an asylum seeker is not illegal in Slovenia, the legal basis for detention in the present case in light of the ECHR is Article 5(1)(b). According to this provision it is permissible to detain persons in order to "secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law." Such an obligation is imposed by the Dublin Regulation, namely that the applicant for international protection does not impede the implementation of the transfer procedure by absconding (Article 28(2) Dublin III Regulation).
  3. Interpretation of standards "substantial risk of absconding" in conjunction with the test of necessity and the purpose of detention under Article 28(2) of the Dublin III Regulation The argument of the Asylum authority that decision on detention falls under their discretionary power is incorrect. The Administrative Court mentioned that since 1999 onwards, it has consistently held the administrative decision to withdraw personal liberty of the applicant for international protection cannot be discretionary, a requirement imposed on the basis of international law and constitutional standards. The Slovenian Supreme Court confirmed this position stating that a decision on detention cannot be based on discretion, but on whether the conditions prescribed in the Dublin Regulation are fulfilled. The conditions are the following:
  • A. The purpose of transfer: facilitating execution of a transfer procedure This means that the Asylum authority has to pay attention to whether an objective obstacle to the implementation of the transfer exist or not. If such asn obstacle exists, the Court held that then the test of necessity reduces the justification of detention proportionaly to the degree of probability of ensuring a successful execution of the transfer. The Supreme Court also stated that the Asylum office before ordering detention is obliged in the shortest possible time to acquire as much relevant information for their decision on detention as possible or that information they already possess is verified with due diligence.
  • B. The standard of proof: a significant risk of absconding “Significant” must be interpreted closer to the standard of "substantial" threat than the standard of only "perceived" threat. This conclusion is apparent from a comparison with the English version ("Significant"), the Italian version (“notevole"), the Croatian edition („velika opasnost“) of this standard, while the French version talks about important or non-negligible danger (" un risque non négliegable"). Specified risk of absconding, especially when it comes to single and healthy men, can often exist, but it is not sufficient to impose the detention measure. Risk of absconding must therefore be substantial or significant.
  • C. Objective (legal) criteria for the risk of absconding The essential question in these matters is how this risk is established or which specific circumstances are shown in the risk of absconding. The Dublin III Regulation requires Member States to precisely define these reasons in national law (Article 2(n) of the Dublin III Regulation). The Slovenian legislature did not abide by this obligation, therefore this questions remain very open and allow large differences in national case-law on the wide or narrow interpretation of the risk of absconding. The Administrative Court held that for reasons of legal certainty and reliability as well as a more equal protection of rights, it is not acceptable in such cases to use, by analogy, arrangements under the Aliens Act-2, which were adopted by the Slovenian legislature when transposing Article 3(7) of the Return Directive. The standard of proof under the Return Directive is significantly lower than under the Dublin Regulation, since the Return Directive requires only "the existence of risk", while under the Dublin Regulation, the risk should be "substantial". Also the Supreme Court noted that all the criteria listed in Article 68 of the Aliens Act-2 cannot be used, but only those that comply with the specific characteristics and objectives of the Dublin III Regulation. At least the third, fourth and fifth alinea of Article 68(1) correspond to an objective criterion for the definition of a risk of absconding in accordance with the requirements of the Dublin III Regulation (the alien’s res judicata conviction for criminal offence; possession of foreign, forged or otherwise modified travel and other documents; the provision of false information or non-cooperation in the procedure). The objective (legal) criteria for the risk of absconding is directly related to the criteria set out in Article 5 of the ECHR in terms of the assessment of the quality of legal provisions which prescribe detention. The assessment of legality under Article 5 of the ECHR means that the legal basis satisfies the requirements of legal certainty and predictability in the sense that the provision is accessible and sufficiently precise, predictable and that it prevents arbitrariness. It is important whether the poor quality of legal norms actually affected the decision. In cases Abdolkhani and Karimnia v. Turkey (para. 125-135) and in Keshmiri v. Turkey (para. 33) the Court noted that the government may rely on certain provisions of detention, but the Court found that these provisions are not related to deprivation of liberty in the context of deportation, but are related to the organization of stay for foreigners and therefore the Court ruled that detention in these cases had no legal basis. Since the Slovenian legislature has not fulfilled its obligations under the Article 2(n) of the Dublin III Regulation, the possibility of an analogous application of the Article 68 of the Aliens Act-2 is a very weak basis in terms of the objective criteria required. It can only be sufficient in a particular case if in light of the specific circumstances of the case there is no doubt about the existence of the risk of absconding.
  • D. Individual assessment of the specific circumstances of the risk of absconding A significant risk of absconding must always be assessed on the basis of each individual case and circumstances relating to each applicant.
  • E. The measure must be proportionate (necessary) and the application of a less coercive measure would be ineffective The standard of proportionality or necessity must be assessed having regard to the Article 52(1) of the Charter and the decisions of the Constitutional Court in case No. Up-1116/09-22 of 3.3.2011 (strict proportionality test), while the standard that it is not possible to use other less coercive means must be considered in conjunction with Article 8(4) of the Reception Directive. This provision says that "Member States shall ensure that the rules concerning alternatives to detention, such as regular reporting to the authorities, the submission of a financial guarantee, or an obligation to stay at a certain place are determined by national law." This requirement, in conjunction with recital 20 of the Dublin Regulation imposes on national legislators to regulate other effective measures that do not constitute detention. The only existing alternative to detention prescribed in International Protection Act-1 is the restriction of movement in the area of an open reception center.
  • F. The intensity of judicial review of the lawfulness of detention The CJEU in cases on detention established that national courts have to verify the legality of detention based on the standard of rigorous scrutiny. In the case of Mahdi, which relates to the question of the intensity and integrity of judicially reviewing the extension of a detention order of an alien who is irregular in the territory of the EU and is in the process of removal, the CJEU requires national courts to decide on "all factual and legal elements [...], for which it is necessary to thoroughly examine the facts of each case [...] the judicial body must be able to take into account both the facts and the evidence relied upon by the administrative authority [...] as well as any comments by a third country national. In addition, it must be able to note all the other elements that are important for the decision, if considered necessary. It follows that the powers of the judicial authority in the context of the review cannot be limited to submissions by the administrative authority.” Regarding the facts of the concrete case, the Court concluded that despite the fact that the Asylum Authority did not refer to any of the objective criteria on the risk of absconding from Article 68 of Aliens Act-1, the Court could conclude that alinea 5 of Article 68 (obstruction of the procedure) is relevant in the present case. Regarding the use of alternatives, the Court notes that the Asylum authority used inappropriate argumentation why alternatives cannot be used in this case. The non-use of alternatives has to be justified based on the degree of the risk of absconding that results from the personal characteristics of the applicant and not by general statements that the security in the open reception center cannot be sufficiently secured. Despite inappropriate argumentation used by the Asylum authority, the Court nevertheless agrees that the alternative cannot be used in the present case because the applicant presents significant risk of absconding.

Role of the Charter and role of the general principles on enforcement

Relation to scope of the Charter
Charter was applicable because the case is about right to liberty (Article 6) and since detention must be proportionate and necessary, Article 52(1) of the Charter is relevant.
Safeguards for access to justice
  • The obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions
  • Right to an effective remedy before a tribunal
Relevance of CFREU and ECHR articles or related rights
Since the applicant as an asylum seeker is not illegally in Slovenia, the legal basis for detention in the present case in light of the ECHR is Article 5(1)(b). The objective (legal) criteria for the risk of absconding is directly related to the criteria set out in Article 5 of the ECHR in terms of the assessment of the quality of legal provisions which prescribe detention. The assessment of legality under Article 5 of the ECHR means that the legal basis satisfies the requirements of legal certainty and predictability in the sense that the provision is accessible and sufficiently precise, predictable and that it prevents arbitrariness. It is important whether the poor quality of legal norms actually affected the decision. The standard of proportionality or necessity must be assessed having regard to the Article 52(1) of the Charter.
Relevant principles applied
  • Effectiveness
  • Proportionality
Principle of effectiveness
The CJEU in cases on detention established that national courts have to verify the legality of detention based on the standard of rigorous scrutiny. CJEU in such cases upgraded the general principle of effectiveness of judicial remedy with higher standards. In the case of Mahdi, which relates to the question of the intensity and integrity of judicially reviewing the extension of a detention order of an alien who is illegally in the territory of the EU and is in the process of removal, the CJEU requires national courts to decide on "all factual and legal elements [...], for which it is necessary to thoroughly examine the facts of each case [...] the judicial body must be able to take into account both the facts and the evidence relied upon by the administrative authority [...] as well as any comments by a third country national. In addition, it must be able to note all the other elements that are important for the decision, if considered necessary. It follows that the powers of the judicial authority in the context of the review cannot be limited to submissions by the administrative authority.”
Principle of proportionality
When deciding on the less restrictive measure, the authority has to abide by the principle of proportionality. The authority needs to justify why the objective pursued cannot be achieved by a less restrictive measure. The judicial review of the legality of deprivation of liberty orders is subject to a strict proportionality test.

Elements of judicial dialogue

Horizontal dialogue type
  • Dialogue among same level national courts within the same Member State
  • Dialogue among national courts of different Member States
Vertical dialogue type
  • Direct dialogue between CJEU/ECtHR and National court (out of preliminary reference procedure)
  • Dialogue between high court - lower instance court at national level
Cited CJEU
  • C-146/14, Bashir Mohamed Ali Mahdi
  • C-383/13, M.G., N.R., Other Party: Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie
  • C-411/10, and C-493-10, Joined cases of N.S. v United Kingdom and M.E. v Ireland
  • C-534/11, Mehmet Arslan v Policie ČR, Krajské ředitelství policie Ústeckého kraje, odbor cizinecké policie
  • C-256/11, Murat Dereci and others v. Bundesministerium für Inneres
  • C-246/09, Bulick
  • C-106/77, Simmenthal II
  • C-357/09, PPU Said Shamilovich Kadzoev (Huchbarov)
  • C-23/12, Zakaria
  • C-39/72, Commission v. Italy
  • C-344/04, International Air Transport Association
  • C‑63/15, Mehrdad Ghezelbash v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie
  • C-617/10, Åkerberg Fransson
  • C‑601/15 PPU, J. N. v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie
Cited ECtHR
  • Abdolkhani and Karimnia v. Turkey
  • Keshmiri v. Turkey
  • Saadi v. the United Kingdom
  • Cyprus v. Turkey
  • Djavit An v. Turkey
  • Hajibeyli v. Azerbaijan
  • Streletz, Kessler and Krenz v. Germany
  • Ahingdane v. the United Kingdom
  • Guzzardi v. Italy
  • Raimondo v. Italy
  • Amuur v. France
  • Nasrulloyev v. Russia
  • Bordovskiy v. Russia
  • Rusu v. Austria
Dialogue techniques
  • Conform interpretation with EU law as interpreted by the CJEU
  • Proportionality
  • Citation of foreign domestic judgment

Additional notes on the decision

External links

Case author

Gruša Matevžič, Hungarian Helsinki Committee

Published by Sara Paiusco on 28 June 2018