Finland: Supreme Administrative Court confirms the cessation of subsidiary protection due to change in personal circumstances

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

On 25 November 2020, the Supreme Administrative Court published its judgment in KHO: 2020: 129 concerning the cessation of an Iraqi national’s subsidiary protection due to a change in his personal circumstances. 
In 2008, Mr A first obtained a residence permit in Finland on the basis of subsidiary protection because of the security situation in his home area of ​​Tuz Khurmatu. Later, in 2013, he first obtained permanent residence, after which he travelled to Iraq,  where he resided in Erbil until 2017. The Finnish Immigration Service (FIS) considered that it was clear that there had been no significant change in the security situation of Mr A’s home territory in Tuz Khurmatu. However, FIS considered that Mr A could settle in Erbil and as such, withdrew Mr A’s subsidiary protection status and made an order for deportation. The applicant subsequently lodged an unsuccessful appeal to the Administrative Court. 
Mr. A sought to annul the decision of FIS before the Supreme Administrative Court on the grounds that the subsidiary protection status granted had not ceased and that he is in need of protection on the grounds of his mental illness. Mr A claimed that he was not able to return from Iraq to Finland as he was not able to travel due to his state of health. Additionally, he submitted that he was subject to verbal contempt and harassment as a result of his mental illness. Mr A also submitted that he is undergoing treatment in Finland. 
The Supreme Administrative Court noted that changes in the applicant’s personal circumstances must be evaluated in a final assessment. The Court acknowledged that the applicant, after living in Erbil for four consecutive years, had not experienced security problems or persecution. In that regard, the Court stated that there were no significant grounds for believing he would be in danger of experiencing serious harm. The Court stated that his experience of rejection due to his mental illness could not alone provide a basis for the need for international protection. In view of Mr. A’s long-term stay in Erbil, the Court concluded that his personal circumstances can be regarded as having changed in a significant and permanent such that protection was no longer required.  
In assessing the conditions for granting a residence permit, the Court stated that it believed that Mr. A could receive medical treatment in Erbil, having previously received treatment there between 2013 and 2017. The Court acknowledged the network of relatives available to provide support in his home country and thus stated that, despite his mental illness, Mr A was not in such a vulnerable position that the refusal of a residence permit would be manifestly unreasonable.
Having confirmed the FIS’s decision to cease subsidiary protection and to refuse residence permission, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the decision to deport.  
With thanks to Siiri Sinnemäki for assisting the EWLU team with this summary. Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU Team.

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 published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Cessation of protection
Personal circumstances of applicant