CJEU - Judgment Case C-578/16 PPU C.K. and Others v. Supreme Court of Republic Slovenia

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On 16 February 2017, the CJEU has delivered its judgment in case C-578/16 PPU C. K. and Others v. Supreme Court of Republic Slovenia, which relates to the interpretation of Articles 3(2) and 17(1) Dublin III Regulation (Regulation No. 604/2013). The case concerns the transfer of a couple and their new-born child from Slovenia to Croatia. Pursuant to psychiatric assessments the mother and the child were to remain at the reception centre in Slovenia since they required care. Indeed, the mother had been suffering from depression and periodic suicidal tendencies since the birth of her new-born.

With regards to the first question the CJEU rules that the application of the discretionary clause under Article 17(1) of Dublin III Regulation implies an interpretation of EU law, within the meaning of Article 267(3) TFEU.

As for the second to fourth questions the CJEU states that the provisions in the Dublin III Regulation must be interpreted and applied with respect to the fundamental rights in the Charter. The prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment as provided in Article 4 Charter corresponds to the prohibition in Article 3 ECHR, and, in accordance with Article 52(3) Charter, its meaning and scope must be the same as conferred by the ECHR. It follows from the case law of the ECtHR (see Paposhvili v. Belgium, no. 41738/10) that the suffering which flows from naturally occurring illness may be covered by Article 3, where it is, or risks being, exacerbated by treatment, whether flowing from conditions of detention, expulsion or other measures, for which the authorities can be held responsible. Those considerations are also relevant in the context of the Dublin system, taking into account the general and absolute character of Article 4 Charter.

Even if there are no serious grounds for believing that there are systemic failures in the asylum procedure and the conditions for the reception of applicants for asylum, a transfer in itself can entail a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 Charter. This is notably the case in circumstances where the transfer of an asylum seeker, with a particularly serious mental or physical condition, leads to the applicant’s health significantly deteriorating. The authorities of a Member State must take into account objective factors, such as medical certificates, which are capable of demonstrating the particular seriousness of a person's illness and the significant and irremediable consequences that a transfer may entail for that person. It would then be for those authorities to eliminate any serious doubt as to the impact of the transfer on the health status of the person concerned, by ensuring that the asylum seeker is accompanied during the actual transfer by the appropriate medical staff who have the necessary equipment, resources and medicines, to prevent any aggravation of his health or any act of violence towards himself or third parties. Member States must also ensure that the asylum seeker receives care upon arrival in the responsible Member State.

If necessary, a Member State should suspend the transfer for as long as the applicant’s health condition does not render him capable of such a transfer. The requesting Member State may also choose to examine the request itself by making use of the 'discretionary clause' under Article 17(1) Dublin III. That provision cannot, however, be interpreted to imply an obligation for that Member State to do so. If the state of health of the asylum seeker does not allow the requesting Member State to transfer within a six-month period, the Member State responsible shall be relieved of its obligations to take charge or to take back the person concerned and responsibility shall then be transferred to the requesting Member State in accordance with Article 29(2) Dublin III Regulation.

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Dublin Transfer
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Medical Reports/Medico-legal Reports