Slovakia - Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic, 12 February 2013, A.B. v Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, 1Sža/2/2013

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
12-02-2013
Citation:
1Sža/2/2013
Court Name:
Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Slovakia - Zákon 480/2002 Zb. o azyle a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov (Act No 480/2002 on asylum and amending certain other acts) - § 12(1)(c)
Slovakia - Zákon 480/2002 Zb. o azyle a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov (Act No 480/2002 on asylum and amending certain other acts) - § 19(a)
Slovakia - Zákon 480/2002 Zb. o azyle a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov (Act No 480/2002 on asylum and amending certain other acts) - § 6(2)
Slovakia - Zákon č. 382/20004 Z.z. o znalcoch
tlmočníkoch a prekladateľoch a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov (Act No 382/20004 on experts
interpreters and translators and amending certain other acts) - § 15(1)
interpreters and translators and amending certain other acts) - § 15(2)
Slovakia - Zákon č. 48/2002 Z.z. o pobyte cudzincov a o zmene a doplnení niektorých zákonov (teraz zákon č. 404/2011 Z.z.) (Act No 48/2002 on the residence of foreigners and amending certain other acts (now Act No 404/2011)) - § 2(k)
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Facts: 

The applicant, a national of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, has repeatedly requested international protection on the territory of the Slovak Republic. Prior to submitting the applications for international protection, the applicant was twice admitted to a psychiatric hospital. During previous asylum procedures, the applicant stated that his mother tongue was Berber, and that he spoke Arabic and French. Interviews with the applicant were conducted in Arabic. He was summoned for an interview in order to substantiate his next application for international protection, but he twice refused to speak, on the grounds that he did not understand the Arabic interpreter, and he requested a Berber interpreter. An outpatient doctor (an intern) has stated in writing that the applicant is well and is capable of participating in an interview. He was informed, in Arabic, of his rights and obligations, as well as the possible consequences of refusing to cooperate. In view of these facts, the Ministry of Interior – Migration Office issued a decision in which it dismissed the application as manifestly unfounded.

The applicant filed an appeal with the Regional Court against the above decision through a legal representative. The Regional Court upheld the contested decision of the administrative authority as correct and lawful, on the grounds that the applicant was informed of his rights and obligations and was summoned to the interviews duly and in accordance with the law, both of these procedural steps being taken by the administrative authority in Arabic, which the applicant understood, and because the interpreting for the interviews and their actual termination was conducted in a lawful manner, but specifically because the applicant refused to cooperate with the administrative authority, without giving a reason.

The applicant then appealed, through a legal representative, to the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic reversed the decision of the Regional Court, setting aside the decision of the Ministry of Interior – Migration Office, and referring the case back to the Migration Office.

The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic stated in its decision that the primary task when assessing an application for international protection was to decide whether to grant protection, and without the statement of the applicant it was not possible to assess the relevance of the application. The statement of the applicant cannot be replaced by other evidence, and the applicant therefore has an obligation to cooperate with the administrative authority. If, however, the administrative authority determines that the applicant is failing to cooperate merely on the grounds that the applicant has refused to speak, without examining the reasons for such behaviour, its resulting rejection of the application as manifestly unfounded is premature. Moreover, the administrative authority knew that the applicant was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in P. and in M. The applicant also stated in the appeal that he suffered from mental disorders, and he presented the court with a release report from the Psychiatric Hospital of M together with the appeal. The Regional Court failed to adopt any opinion in respect of this evidence. In addition, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic did not agree with the Regional Court’s conclusion, and stated that the applicant’s mental state should be assessed by a specialist – a psychiatrist and not an intern such as the outpatient doctor. With regard to the matter of assessing the applicant’s refusal to make a statement and the objection that he was unable to understand the interpreter, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic also concluded that the administrative authority should have requested a report on the applicant’s mental state, as it knew that the applicant had been treated in a psychiatric hospital and suffered from mental health problems. In addition, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic imposed an obligation on the administrative authority to consider the possibility of granting asylum on humanitarian grounds in future proceedings.

Outcome: 

Appeal upheld

The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic reversed the decision of the Regional Court and referred the decision of the Ministry of Interior – Migration Office back to that authority.

Observations/Comments: 

Senát zložený z predsedu senátu JUDr. Igor Belko a z členov Ing. JUDr. Miroslav Gavalec a JUDr. Elena Berthotyová PhD.