Poland - Judgement of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw from 1 October 2015 no IV SA/Wa 685/15 annulling the decision of the Refugee Board on refusing refugee status, subsidiary protection and tolerated stay permit.

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
01-10-2015
Citation:
IV SA/Wa 685/15
Court Name:
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Poland - Article 15 and 18 of the Law of 13 June 2003 on granting protection to foreigners in the territory of the Republic of Poland
Poland - Article 13 of the Law of 13 June 2003 on granting protection to foreigners in the territory of the Republic of Poland
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Headnote: 

The risk of persecutions should be assessed only on the basis of the current state of affairs or a prognosis of the situation in the foreseeable future, based on documented facts and not on general hypothesis regarding potential changes with no probability assessment. There is no doubt that in Ukraine there is a serious crisis, because of armed conflict in the part of the country, but for now there is no real risk that the conflict will cover the whole country.

The applicant is a member of a protestant church, while the dominating religion is orthodox. This circumstance should be duly taken into account when applying the internal protection alternative. The analysis whether the applicant’s fear of persecutions is well founded, should be based on updated information. The information was not updated since it came from April 2014 and the decision was taken in December 2014. The situation in Ukraine is dynamic so the appeal authority should complement the case files accordingly.

Facts: 

The applicant, national of Ukraine, applied for asylum in Poland in April 2014. She was afraid of persecutions by so called “Crimean self-defense” because she took part in protests against the annexation of Crimea. She was also a member of a religious group, which was persecuted. In May 2014 The Head of the Office for Foreigners refused to grant her refugee status, subsidiary protection and tolerated stay permit. The applicant submitted an appeal against this decision. The authority confirmed the threat of persecutions but claimed that there is an internal protection alternative. The Refugee Board upheld this decision. The applicant lodged a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Court agreed with the Refugee Board that the applicant could not have been persecuted in the country of origin for her political views. In the Court’s opinion the Refugee Board presented a complete and logical statement in this regard. The applicant’s loyalty to the country, presented during the annexation of Crimea, could only be appreciated by the Ukrainian society. It cannot be stated that the applicant is threatened in the whole territory of the Ukraine, or the part governed by Ukrainian government. The applicant claims so because the situation in Ukraine is unstable and the whole country can be a war zone soon. However, the Refugee Board was right to state that the risk of persecutions should be assessed only on the basis of the current state of affairs or a prognosis of the situation in the foreseeable future, based on documented facts and not on general hypothesis regarding potential changes with no probability assessment. There is no doubt that in Ukraine there is a serious crisis, because of armed conflict in the part of the country, but for now there is no real risk that the conflict will cover the whole country.

As for membership in a religious group, the Court noted that this circumstance was not duly taken into account and that the statement that she could not be persecuted because of religious beliefs was not justifiable. The Court cited the Country of Origin Information available in the case files, that this protestant church was registered in Ukraine and operated legally but the relations with dominating orthodox church were tense. In the opinion of the Court this circumstance was not given enough consideration when applying the internal protection alternative. It requires analysis based on updated information on the country of origin. The information was not updated since it came from April 2014 and the decision was taken in December 2014. The situation in Ukraine is dynamic and the case files should be complemented by the appeal authority accordingly.

Outcome: 

Annulling the decision of the Refugee Board on refusal of protection.