Germany: violation of a right to effective legal protection of a Mauritanian asylum applicant

Friday, September 25, 2020

On 25 September 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (BVerfG) overturned the Administrative Court (VG) of Greifswald’s decision to reject the appeal of a Mauritanian woman who alleged a continuation of slavery if returned to her country of origin.

The case concerned N, a Mauritanian national of the Fula Tribe, who came to Germany in 2016 and made an application for asylum. She asserted that she belonged to a 'slave tribe' and had no schooling. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) rejected her claim and issued a return order. Upon appeal against this decision, N asserted before the Administrative Court that, as a woman without papers, schooling and family protection in her home country, she would be forced to work as a slave in a household. The VG rejected the application stating that it was not clear why she would not be able to use the knowledge and experience she had acquired, working as a kitchen helper in Germany, to secure an appropriate subsistence level when she returned to Mauritania. N’s application for an appeal to the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) was unsuccessful, after which she turned to the Federal Constitutional Court. 
This Court considered that the complaint was “obviously well founded.” It held that the Administrative Court had failed to take account of the evidence N submitted regarding both the impossibility of securing a livelihood outside of slavery, and the status of former ‘slave tribe’ members, particularly women, which was salient to the question of the existence of a ban on deportation to Mauritania. The sources relied on by N, indicated that women in these circumstances are still affected by extreme poverty and exclusion from society which can, in many cases lead to a continuation of slavery. The Federal Constitutional Court concluded that the decision of the Administrative Court violated N’s right to a fair hearing and, considering the circumstances, a ban on deportation to Mauritania in accordance with section 60 (5) of the Residence Act in conjunction with Article 3 of the ECHR would be justified. It was further held that the decision not to allow N’s appeal by the Higher Administrative Court violated N’s right to effective legal protection and should have been allowed on account of the previous violation of the right to be heard. 
The case was remitted to the Administrative Court in Greifswald for fresh consideration. 

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.                               

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