Finland: Administrative Court had to give the applicant the opportunity to be heard to explain why he had not disclosed his sexual orientation in the interview

Date: 
Friday, September 22, 2017

On 22 September 2017, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland ruled on a case regarding an Iraqi applicant who applied for asylum in Finland after receiving threats from extremist Islamists due to his musical career and liberal lifestyle. Despite the accusation of homosexuality in one of the threatening letters, in the asylum interview the applicant denied being a homosexual. His asylum application was rejected due to the existence of a safe internal flight alternative in Iraq.

The applicant appealed against this decision before the Administrative Court and disclosed that he was in fact a homosexual and feared persecution on this ground if returned to Iraq. He explained that he had denied his homosexuality during the asylum interview because the interpreter was wearing a headscarf and because he feared the situation in the reception centre if his homosexuality was disclosed. However, the Administrative Court rejected his accounts due to a lack of credibility and dismissed the appeal on the basis of the written record without accepting the applicant’s request to an oral hearing.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the lower court had erred in its decision. While an asylum seeker can be in principle required to present all the grounds for his application for international protection during the interview, new relevant elements and their credibility have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis – in this case, the applicant had sufficiently explained why he had not disclosed his homosexuality during the asylum interview and had supplemented his account with consistent information about his sexuality and social relations. Therefore, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the assessment of the appellant’s credibility with regard to his sexual orientation would have required an oral hearing. For this reason, the case was remitted to the Administrative Court for a new decision, this time giving the applicant the opportunity to be heard.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.



This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.

                                                     

 

Keywords: 
Internal protection
Personal interview
Sexual orientation