France – Administrative Tribunal of Paris orders Immigration Office to address difficulties in access to asylum procedure via the phone platform

Thursday, February 14, 2019

On 14 February, the Administrative Tribunal of Paris ruled in an urgent procedure regarding practical complications in the registration of asylum applications in the Île-de-France region.

The urgent action was initiated by several civil society organisations against complications that amounted to obstacles to the registration of applications for international protection through a telephone platform. The platform, established by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII), is used to book appointments with the first reception asylum authorities (SPADA), where applications for international protection can be made. As the contested situation relates to the constitutional right to asylum and the lack of unobstructed access leads to inability for asylum applicants to obtain documents related to the regularisation of their stay in the French territory, the Tribunal considered the resulting legal insecurity to meet the condition of urgency and went on to examine the merits.

The Tribunal took note of the fact that the new telephone procedure has improved access for many people, who can now avoid queuing for their registration of their application, but considered that the number of people who are currently experiencing issues with securing an appointment is not negligible. It cannot therefore be seriously disputed that there remains a real problem of accessibility to the telephone platform and, consequently, to the procedure. The problem also relates to the people being unable to obtain a response from the platform despite repeated attempts over several days. Therefore, in the absence of an acknowledgement of receipt of the applicant’s attempt to register their asylum application, people are not in a position, in the event of police checks, to justify the steps taken to regularise their situation.

With reference to the deadlines of Article 6 of Directive 2013/32, the Tribunal disagreed with the government’s argument that these time limits do not concern the time spent before booking an appointment. Despite the particularity of the procedure, the time spent on unsuccessful attempts to book an appointment is part of the overall time spent for registration of the application and is, therefore, unduly extending it.

Lastly, the Tribunal observed that the Office should link the number of agents working on the telephone platform to the number of incoming calls to ensure its proper function. Under the given circumstances, the Tribunal accepted the urgent action and ordered the Office to increase its staff on the platform by at least two additional full-time staff members until the problematic situation is stabilised.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA 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.  



Effective access to procedures