UN Human Rights Committee: Asylum-related jurisprudence from the 119th Session (Part 1)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

During its 119th Session (06 Mar 2017 - 29 Mar 2017), the CCPR adopted 46 decisions, out of which 26 have been published to date. This EWLU would like to draw your attention to the following:

The case concerns an Iranian national, Mrs Rezaifar, and her two children. They fled Iran in 2008 due to her former husband’s political activities for the Kurdish Komeleh party. They were granted international protection in Italy that same year. They were subjected to domestic violence and the mother was forced by her former husband to prostitute herself while in Italy. The mother suffers from both mental and physical diseases and the youngest child suffers from a heart condition.
The family arrived in Denmark in 2012, shortly before the expiration of their residence permit. They applied for asylum but without success on the basis of Italy being the first country of asylum. The Refugee Appeals Board (RAB) ruled that it could not be established that Italy could not and would not provide adequate social, economic and medical conditions for the applicants.
The CCPR considered that Denmark did not properly take into account the personal circumstances and past experiences of the applicants, and that it had not substantiated enough how a renewable residence permit would actually protect the applicant and her children from hardship and destitution. The Committee also considered that the children’s age and the family’s situation of vulnerability had not been properly addressed by Denmark when seeking assurances from Italy. 
The CCPR concluded that the removal of the applicants to Italy, without further individual assurances, would amount to a violation of Article ICCPR. This case was reopened by the Refugee Appeals Board, and will be scheduled for a new oral hearing.

The communication was brought by a Somali couple with four minor children, who claimed that a deportation to Italy would put them and their children at a risk of inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of Article 7 ICCPR. On 18 November 2015, the Committee issued an interim measure to refrain deporting the applicants to Italy.
The applicants fled Somalia and reached Italy in October 2008, being granted subsidiary protection in January 2009. Without further support from the Italian authorities, the applicants travelled to Finland in early 2009 and were returned to Italy after four months. Facing homelessness once again, they lived in appalling conditions in an abandoned clinic together with other refugees. During her pregnancy, the applicant had no access to health care. In the next three years, they were not offered access to housing, social benefits or an integration program by the Italian authorities.
The applicants then travelled to Denmark, where they once again applied for asylum. Both the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) and the Refugees Appeals Board (RAB) rejected their application for asylum on the basis of Italy being the first country of asylum. They were taken by the Danish police to Italy, where they had their entry denied since the Danish authorities had not been in contact with the Italian authorities and their subsidiary protection had expired and not been renewed. Upon return to Denmark, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) requested the RAB to reopen the case. After consultation with the Danish police and the Ministry of Justice, the RAB decided not to reopen the case as the Italian authorities indicated that they would now accept the family.
The Committee found that the Danish authorities had not adequately taken into account the particular situation of vulnerability of the family and the information they provided about their own personal experience. It also ruled that the Danish authorities had failed to make a concrete assessment of the risks of expulsion, especially for the children born in Denmark, and had limited themselves to the general assumption that the family had once benefited from subsidiary protection. Therefore, the CCPR concluded that the removal of the applicants to Italy, without further individual assurances, would amount to a violation of Article ICCPR.
We would like to thank Cecilia Vejby Andersen from the Danish Refugee Council for information regarding these cases.


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. 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, the IRC or its partners.



Best interest of the child
Child Specific Considerations
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Material reception conditions
Vulnerable person