Germany – Federal Constitutional Court delivers judgment on procedural guarantees for manifestly unfounded applications

Monday, February 25, 2019

On 25 February, the Constitutional Court decided on the procedural requirements when an application for international protection is rejected as manifestly unfounded.

The case concerned a constitutional complaint brought forward by a Sudanese national who entered Germany on a researcher’s visa and subsequently applied for international protection. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) rejected the application as manifestly unfounded, finding that his fear of persecution contradicted his visa application, where he had presented himself as a state-sponsored researcher. The applicant had repeatedly stated during the asylum procedure that the visa-related documents were supplied to him by smugglers. On appeal, the Administrative Court concluded that the applicant’s right to be heard had not been violated, as the BAMF had taken into account the applicant’s submissions and there was no evidence of a general risk for returnees to be subjected to torture.

The Constitutional Court found the decision of the Administrative Court to be in violation of the constitutional guarantee to an effective judicial protection, which includes the right to rigorous judicial review. In this regard, the Court reiterated, in accordance with its previous case-law, that an application for international protection could only be dismissed as manifestly unfounded by an administrative court if there is no reasonable doubt that the court’s assessment of the facts was accurate and the rejection was almost compelling. In this context, it emphasised the serious consequence of such a rejection, which excludes further judicial review by a second instance of appeal.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Court found that the administrative courts had the obligation to substantiate in their decision why they considered the claim to be unfounded in a manifestly manner, setting out the corresponding criteria and applying these criteria to the individual circumstances of the case under review. Consequently, merely claiming that an application is manifestly unfounded cannot be in line with the constitutional requirements of such a decision. The Court further held that these requirements also applied in the context of interim measures and that administrative courts had to go beyond the summary examination usually required for interim measures.

Finally, with regard to the case in question, the Constitutional Court found that the Administrative Court of Potsdam did not comply with these requirements, as it only listed the objective criteria on manifestly unfounded applications, instead of assessing the individual circumstances of the case. It had also erred in solely relying on the Federal Office’s decision, which in turn had simply reproduced the text of the relevant national law without any examination of the applicant’s statements that the visa information was not true.

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 remedy (right to)
Manifestly unfounded application