France - Council of State, 10 February 2016, M.A., No. 373529

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
10-02-2016
Citation:
M.A. [2016], CS, No. 373529
Court Name:
Council of State
Relevant Legislative Provisions:
International Law > 1951 Refugee Convention > Art 1
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
France - Articles L.712-1 of the Code on the Admission and Residence of Aliens and on the Right to Asylum
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Headnote: 

The Council of State (the “Council”) overturned an order of the National Court of Asylum (the “NCA”) rejecting a request for annulment of a decision of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (the “OFPRA”) rejecting the Applicant’s request for refugee status or subsidiary protection. The reasoning for the rejection by the NCA was that no new elements had been presented since the previous decision that had been given.

The Council considered that the disclosure by the prefecture to the Sri Lankan Embassy in France (the “Embassy”) of information on the French asylum request of the Applicant constituted a new circumstance which justified a review of the Applicant’s asylum request. 

Facts: 

By a decision dated 19 July 2011, the Director General of the OFPRA refused to grant the Applicant refugee status or subsidiary protection. A first appeal against that decision was rejected by the NCA on 23 December 2011. The Applicant then renewed his application with the OFPRA and this was again rejected on 30 August 2012. The NCA rejected a request for annulment of that decision by an order dated 5 June 2013 on the basis that no new elements had been presented since the previous decision that had been given.

On 31 January 2013, the prefecture had disclosed to the Embassy the transcript of the Applicant’s interview with the police which mentioned the fact that the Applicant had submitted a French asylum request. This information was disclosed to the NCA on 13 February 2013.  

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Council considered that the disclosure to the Embassy of the transcript of the Applicant’s interview with the police which mentioned the fact that the Applicant had submitted a French asylum request, after such request had been definitively rejected, constituted a new circumstance which could increase the risk of persecution to which the Applicant would be exposed to if he was to return to his country of origin.

The Council stated that the confidentiality of information relating to persons requesting asylum in France constitutes an essential guarantee of the right of asylum which is a principle of constitutional value.

The Council found that by rejecting the Applicant’s request on the basis that no new elements had been presented since the previous decision without considering this new information raised by the Applicant, the NCA failed to consider a valid argument. Therefore, the Applicant was entitled to request the annulment of the contested order.

The Council also stated that the country of origin of the Applicant, the nature of the information and the conditions in which they were disclosed and the risks to the Applicant should now be taken into account in the request for refugee status. 

Outcome: 

The order of the NCA dated 5 June 2013 is annulled and the case is referred back to the NCA.

Observations/Comments: 

This case summary was written by Linklaters LLP.