Slovenia - Supreme Court of the Republic of Slovenia, 27 March 2013, I Up 107/2013

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Headnote: 

Once the Applicant states in his application for international protection that his human rights and fundamental freedoms would be violated if he was returned to the recipient country (in this case Bulgaria) in accordance with the Dublin Regulation, the Respondentmust verify whether any systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception conditions constitute reasonable grounds for believing that the Applicant would be exposed to a real danger of inhuman and degrading treatment in the sense of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Facts: 

The Applicant appealed against the decision to be returned to Bulgaria which is - according to the Dublin Regulation- the state responsible for treating his asylum application.

In his application for international protection, the Applicant stated that he was physically assaulted by police offices in Bulgaria, that, once apprehended, he remained in custody in a small room with three beds together with seven other migrants and no food for three days, that he was held in prison for 40 days, he was forced to apply for asylum during his stay in prison, and while in the Asylum Centre he slept on the floor with at least  200 other people and without receiving any food, which is why he decided to escape. In his appeal, the Applicant stated that his return to Bulgaria would represent a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms as the conditions for asylum seekers in Bulgaria do not reach the minimum EU standards. He also stated that Bulgaria violates the principle of non-refoulement, that asylum seekers can be processed before the courts for illegally crossing the border and that asylum seekers are settled in an Asylum Centre in which not only is their movement restricted but they are also stripped of their freedom. The Applicant supplied reports from various international organisations as proof.

The RespondentI was of the opinion that these statements were not to be relied on if they are not supported by evidence. The attached reports do not show systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and reception conditions in Bulgaria. The Respondent was not aware of any European Commission reports that would indicate that Bulgaria does not fulfil its international obligations. According to the Respondent, the 'Dublin decision' is merely a procedural decision issued in the event that the conditions defined in the Dublin Regulation are fulfilled.

Decision & Reasoning: 

According to the Supreme Court, the Applicant raisedcircumstances that cast doubt on whether applicants are have access to an efficient asylum procedure in Bulgaria and whether their human rights and fundamental freedoms are protected. Thus the Respondent should consider the circumstances that indicate that the Applicant would, in the event that he was returned to Bulgaria, have his human rights and fundamental freedoms violated and whether it is necessary to engage Article 3(2) of the Dublin Regulation.

According to the Dublin Regulation, the decision transfer an applicant to another state is a procedural decision and the Applicant cannot chose the country in which his application is to be assessed. However, in the case at hand the Applicant has stated already in his application for international protection that if he was transferred to Bulgaria his human rights and fundamenal freedoms would be violated, thus theRespondent should have researched whether the possible systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and the reception conditions constitute reasonable grounds to believe that the Applicant would be exposed to a real danger of inhuman and degrading treatment in the sense of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.  

Outcome: 

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal and confirmed the contested judgment of the court of first instance.