CJEU: Withdrawal of material reception conditions not a lawful sanction for violation of house rules*

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

On 12 November 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its judgment in Haqbin concerning sanctions that may be imposed on an applicant of international protection for serious breaches of reception centre rules. 

The applicant, an Afghan national, arrived in Belgium as an unaccompanied minor before making an application for international protection. Mr Haqbin was involved in a physical altercation between other residents at the Broechem reception centre and was subsequently excluded from material support in the reception facility for 15 days.

Article 20(4) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive permits states to use sanctions against such conduct. In its reference for a preliminary ruling, the Belgian referring court requested the CJEU to clarify whether a withdrawal of material reception conditions would be permissible.

The Court found that a withdrawal of accommodation, food and clothing, even for a short period of time, would be incompatible with states’ duty to ensure applicants a dignified standard of living under Article 20(5) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and Article 1 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as it would have the effect of depriving applicants of the possibility of meeting their most basic needs. The Court also noted that the requirement to ensure a dignified standard of living must guarantee that such a standard of living is provided continuously and without interruption. Moreover, where the applicant is considered vulnerable, the State must take into account the principle of proportionality, and in the case of an unaccompanied minor, the principle of the best interests of the child. It was therefore held that the withdrawal of material reception conditions cannot be ordered as a sanction for a breach of reception facility rules.

* This is an edited version of information first published by AIDA, managed by ECRE on 12 November 2019. You can find an extensive summary of the judgment here.

Photo: Jacob Gomez, March 2012, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.




Best interest of the child
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Material reception conditions