Poland - Regional Administrative Court in Warsaw, 30 November 2012, II OSK 2292/10

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
30-11-2012
Citation:
II OSK 2292/10
Court Name:
Regional Administrative Court in Warsaw
Relevant Legislative Provisions:
International Law
International Law > 1951 Refugee Convention
European Union Law
European Union Law > EN - Qualification Directive, Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004
European Union Law > EN - Qualification Directive, Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 > Art 33
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Poland - Ustawy z dnia 12 marca 2004 r. o pomocy społecznej (Polish Act of 12 March 2004 on Social Care) - Art 95(4)(2)
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Headnote: 

This is a judgment on the cassation appeal against the judgment of the Regional Administrative Court in Warsaw (case ref.: V SA/Wa 934/10) of 5 August 2010 dismissing the appeal against the decision of the Local Government Appeals Court in Warsaw on refusal to grant assistance within the framework of an integration programme for foreigners.

The rights of refugees and of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in regard to integration assistance should not be withdrawn or denied for the sole reason that they have been convicted of a crime – regardless of whether they committed the crime prior to receiving protection or prior to submitting an application for integration assistance. Such action would not be in the public interest, for it is assumed, in regard to the decision to provide protection to the foreigner, that the state should take steps to facilitate the integration of foreigners.

Facts: 

A beneficiary of subsidiary protection and his dependants submitted an application for assistancewithin the framework of an integration programme. The public authority refused to grant the assistance since a Criminal Records Bureau check showed that the main Applicant had been convicted of an intentional offence, which by law constitutes a basis for refusal of integration assistance. The offence in question was the illegal crossing of a national border with the use of violence, threats or deception or in collaboration with others. The offence took place prior to the granting of subsidiary protection and prior to the submission of an application for integration assistance, and in effect it deprived the whole family of this assistance. The Regional Administrative Court in Warsaw dismissed the appeal, after which a cassation appeal against the judgment was lodged with the Supreme Administrative Court.

Decision & Reasoning: 

The denial or withdrawal of integration assistance due to a conviction for an intentional offence should relate to the period when integration assistance was provided, and not to the period before protection was provided to the foreigner.

This purposive interpretation is supported by EU law relating to the support given by the EU to the actions of Member States in regard to bearing the consequences of receiving refugees. The integration of refugees into the society of the country in which they are established is one of the objectives of the Geneva Convention of 1951. Member States should support actions aimed at promoting the social, economic and cultural integration of refugees, since economic and social cohesion are among the fundamental objectives of the Community enshrined in the treaties. It is in the interests of both Member States and refugees that the latter should be given the opportunity to provide for themselves by working in accordance with regulations. The purpose of the integration programme is to help foreigners find work in accordance with their qualifications, undertake necessary training, and function appropriately in contacts with their local community.

Outcome: 

The judgments of the Regional Administrative Court and of the authorities of both instances were overturned.

Subsequent Proceedings : 

Provision of assistance under the integration programme.

Observations/Comments: 

The judgment is groundbreaking because for the first time the regulations on provision of assistance within the framework of an integration programme have been interpreted in the foreigner’s favour. The judgment thus makes it possible to avoid the “repeat punishment” of refugees who have come to Poland without the necessary travel documents. Previously, such punishment was in many cases suffered not only by the Applicant but also by his family members included in the application. The judgment is available at: http://interwencjaprawna.pl/docs/wyrok2292.pdf

As a consequence of this judgment, people who have previously been refused assistance because they were convicted of an offence can likewise now set aside the decisions of public authorities and receive assistance within the framework of an integration programme (see judgment IV SA/Wa 608/13 of 1 August 2013, available at:   http://interwencjaprawna.pl/wp-content/uploads/Wyr.-IV-SA-Wa-608-13.pdf)

Other sources cited: 

Council Decision No. 2004/904/EC of 2 December 2004 establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2005 to 2010, recitals 5 and 6 of the preamble.