France - Council of State, 10 April 2015, M. A., No. 372864

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
10-04-2015
Citation:
CE, 10 April 2015, M. A., No. 388180
Court Name:
Council of State
Relevant Legislative Provisions:
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
France - Cesda (Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law L 712-1
France - Cesda (Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum Law L 712-2
France - Code de justice administrative (Code of Administrative Justice) - Art L.761-1
France - Constitution
France - Law no. 91-647 of 10 July 1991 - art. 37
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Headnote: 

The French National Asylum Court (the “CNDA”)  must assess whether or not the applicant should be granted refugee status or, failing that, subsidiary protection,taking into account all the factual on the basis of the circumstances which are known to the CNDA when it rules. In order to assess the accuracy of the facts reported by an applicant, the CNDA must take into account all evidence presented by an applicant in support of his application. In particular, when an applicant produces circumstantial evidence relating to the alleged risks that he is likely to face if he returns to his country of origin, the CNDA must – after assessing the credibility of such evidence and analysing it in light of the reported facts – assess the potential risks  which the facts reveal and, as the case may be, indicate the elements that led the CNDA to consider these risks to be not sufficiently serious. 

Facts: 

M. A. (the “Applicant”), a Sri Lankan national of Tamil origin, was denied refugee status by a decision (the “Decision”) of the Director General of OFPRA. The Applicant applied to the CNDA for the Decision to be overturned. In support of his application, the Applicant provided the CNDA with a medical certificate as evidence of the injuries and traumas he said he had faced in his country of origin. The CNDA did not consider it necessary to take into account the medical certificate and rejected the Applicant’s application. The Applicant appealed the decision before the Council.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Qualification for refugee status

The Council recalled that any person who is outside of their country of origin country, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group, should be considered a refugee.

If a person exposed to serious threats does not meet the conditions to be granted refugee status, the Council recalled that he or she may, under certain conditions (and, in particular, if he/she shows that he/she is facing a material threat of death penalty, torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment), benefit from subsidiary protection granted on the basis of the Right to Asylum Act of 10 December 2003.

Procedure to be followed before the CNDA

The Council considered that the CNDA is expected to rule on an applicant’s right to (i) refugee status or, failing that, (ii) subsidiary protection.

The Council of State also considered that the CNDA must take into account all factual circumstances which are known to the CNDA when the CNDA is examining an application.

In order to assess the accuracy of the risks reported by an applicant, the CNDA must consider all elements presented in support of the applicant’s application. This includes where an applicant produces “circumstantial evidence related to the alleged risks”.

The Council decided that the CNDA, after having considered the credibility of these elements, and having analysed these in light of the reported facts, must assess the risks these elements are likely to reveal. If the CNDA decides not to consider the evidence as credible the Council requires the CNDA to substantiate precisely the reasons for its decision.

Error of law and the obligation to state the reasons for the decision

The Council recalled that the CNDA judged the Applicant’s story to be “brief, unclear and contradictory” and that it did not enable the CNDA to establish the accuracy of the risks incurred if the Applicant was to return to his country of origin.

Additionally, the Council noted that the CNDA indicated that, in the circumstances, the medical certificate was not sufficient to change its analysis of the situation. Therefore, the CNDA did not take the medical certificate into account.

However, considering that the medical certificate contained “circumstantial evidence of injuries and traumas that the Applicant went through”, the Council judged that the CNDA had made an error of law.

The Council considered that the CNDA should have taken into account the risks incurred by the Applicant which the medical certificate could potentially have revealed.

The Council judged that, in those circumstances, the CNDA had to indicate the reasons why it decided not to seriously consider the alleged risks. 

Outcome: 

The Council allowed the appeal, annulled the CNDA’s 23 April 2013 decision and returned the case to the CNDA.

Observations/Comments: 

By this decision the Council has implicitly taken into account case law of the European Court of Human Rights which suggests that a medical certificate objectively testifies to the veracity of acts of torture and ill-treatment alleged by applicants. 

This case summary was written by Linklaters LLP.