France: Court rules against exclusion of Syrian asylum applicant due to lack of evidence

Friday, July 19, 2019

On 19 July, the French National Court of Asylum overturned a decision of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) regarding the cessation of refugee status of an applicant from Syria.  

The applicant was granted refugee status in December 2013 on the grounds that he was a member of the political opposition who was arrested and detained in 2011, and who had been targeted by the Syrian Free Army for challenging their official statement on the death of the French-Belgian journalist Yves Debay.

On 23 May 2017, OFPRA received a confidential document from the Directorate-General for Foreigners in France, which it stated gave reasons to believe the applicant had concealed his motives in seeking protection in France. OFPRA held that the applicant failed to sufficiently explain his activities in Syria and in Turkey in the years before his arrival in France, that he had concealed his use of social media, and that he was in contact with ISIS. On 19 June 2018, OFPRA terminated the refugee status of the applicant stating that his presence on French territory constituted a serious threat to national security, pursuant to Article 1(C) of the Geneva Convention.

On appeal, the French National Court of Asylum held that in the interviews and subsequent investigations, including in the account the applicant gave to the French Consulate in Turkey regarding the death of Yves Debay, the applicant had been consistent in his account of his time in Syria and Turkey and in explaining his use of multiple telephones and social media accounts. The Court held that the confidential note did not produce any specific evidence to accuse the applicant of a crime and solely details the fact that four of his brothers were involved in ISIS and that he had several Facebook accounts and telephone numbers.

The Court therefore ruled that the evidence did not allow the applicant to be considered a serious threat to national security and ordered that the applicant maintain his refugee status.

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