Switzerland: Suspension of Dublin transfer to Croatia due to summary returns at border with Bosnia-Herzegovina

Friday, July 12, 2019

On 12 July 2019, the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland ruled to suspend the transfer of an asylum applicant to Croatia under the Dublin Regulation 604/2013 (the Dublin Regulation) due to the current situation of summary returns at the Croatian border with Bosnia-Herzegovina (E-3078/2019, 12 July 2019).

The applicant, a Syrian national, arrived in Switzerland in March 2019. A EURODAC hit indicated that the applicant was previously registered in Croatia. A take back request was submitted to the Croatian Dublin Unit pursuant to Article 13 of the Dublin Regulation. The applicant appealed the decision on the grounds that Croatia was not a safe country. He stated that he had been returned from the Croatian border 18 times and was imprisoned and abused by Croatian border police. He also submitted that he continues to suffer physically and mentally from his experiences in Croatia.

The Court acknowledged the increasing number of reports concerning the denial of access to the asylum procedures by Croatian authorities and the return of large numbers of asylum seekers to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they are forced to leave the country. These reports included, inter alia, a report from the Special Rapporteur of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Council of Europe and the related draft resolution of the Committee.

The Court held that the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) failed to sufficiently assess the submissions of the applicant, both with regard to the systemic deficiencies in the asylum system in Croatia as well as the applicant’s own experiences and current health. It held that the lower court also failed to examine the risk of chain refoulement from Croatia and whether the alleged ill-treatment by the Croatian authorities could have reached the threshold of a possible violation of fundamental rights protected by Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Recognising that the right to be heard correlates with the duty of the authorities to actually hear the submissions and to take them appropriately into account, the Court ruled that the SEM must re-examine the case and ordered the suspension of the Dublin transfer.

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.


Dublin Transfer