Czech Republic - Supreme Administrative Court, 29 March 2013, T.E.M. v. Ministry of the Interior, 8 Ans 14/2012-35

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
29-03-2013
Citation:
8 Ans 14/2012-35
Court Name:
Supreme Administrative Court
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Czech Republic - Code of Administrative Procedure (500/2004 Coll.) - Art 3
Czech Republic - Code of Administrative Procedure (500/2004 Coll.) - Art 6
Czech Republic - Code of Administrative Procedure (500/2004 Coll.) - Art 71
Czech Republic - Asylum Act (325/1999 Coll.) - Art 27
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Headnote: 

The ruling administrative body is obliged to try to make a decision within the time limit in international protection proceedings; an extension of the time limit must be duly justified and supported by the facts of the case. Absolute inactivity on the part of the ruling body cannot be justified by the instability of the situation in the country of origin or the complexity of the case.

Facts: 

The Applicant applied for international protection in the Czech Republic in November 2006 on the grounds of alleged political persecution. The Ministry did not make a decision on the application until four years later and refused protection. On the basis of an application, the decision of the Ministry was revoked and returned for reconsideration in July 2011. In June 2012, the Applicant brought an action for inactivity before the Municipal Court in Prague since the Ministry had not made any decision on his application for protection and according to the Applicant there was a delay in the procedure for granting international protection. The Municipal Court upheld the Applicant’s complaint and ordered the Ministry to make a decision. The Ministry filed a cassation complaint against the judgment.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Ministry (the administrative body), having had its decision on international protection revoked by the Court, was again obliged to take all necessary steps leading to a rapid decision on the application. If the administrative body fails to comply with deadlines for issuing decisions on international protection without justifying such a process by the particular circumstances and facts, and moreover, does so repeatedly, it is inactive. Proceedings on international protection should normally be completed in 90 days according to Article 27 of the Act on Asylum. The Administrative Court should try to collect and examine all the crucial facts in the most effective way during this time period. The possibility of extending the time limit for issuing a decision might only be used in extraordinary and factually complex cases. Extending the time limit for issuing a decision when it is only justified by a general statement that insufficient background data has been collected is not reasonable, even in cases when the Applicant is duly notified about such an extension to the time limit. In the view of the Court, although the Procedures Directive does not expressly prescribe a requirement of due justification for an extension of the time limit to make a decision, it is impossible to infer that such a requirement is in contradiction with the Procedures Directive. The intention of the Procedures Directive is certainly not to enable an unfounded or arbitrary extension of the time limit for the proceedings. In contrast, Article 23(2) as well as Recital (11) of the Procedures Directive, require that the application for protection is processed as soon as possible. In this case, the administrative record did not even contain proof of relevant activity and completed actions on the part of the administrative body. The Court further rejected that the excessive length of the proceedings was justified by the complicated and instable situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; on the contrary, this fact should lead the administrative body to act effectively by summarising the background data and comparing it with the statement of the Applicant. The Court rejected as absurd the objection that the administrative body could not make decisions under time constraints with regard to possible threats to the life or rights of the Applicant. The administrative body must be able to adapt so that it makes its decisions within a reasonable time limit both in the case of economic migrants and in more complex cases.

Outcome: 

The cassation complaint was dismissed.

Subsequent Proceedings : 

The Ministry subsequently made a decision on the application for international protection. The application was again refused.

Observations/Comments: 

The Court also recalled in relation to the delay in proceedings on international protection that those persons who made decisions in this case should know the relevant standards of asylum and refugee law, and should have access to accurate and up-to-date information from various sources about the general situation in the countries of origin of the Applicants (Article 8(2) of the Procedures Directive). 

Case Law Cited: 

Czech Republic - Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, 13 November 2003, III. ÚS 696/02

Czech Republic - Supreme Administrative Court, 8 November 2013, 7 Ans 16/2012–33

Czech Republic - Supreme Administrative Court, 6 February 2013, 1 Ans 19/2012–43