Bulgaria – Supreme Administrative Court, Fourth Division, Judgment № 6819/07.07.2022 in administrative case № 3789/2022
The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) quashed Decision № 180/30.03.2022 by the Council of Minister which states the following: “Foreign citizens and stateless persons who have fled from Ukraine as a result of the military actions and who have entered and stayed on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria may receive temporary protection even without their explicit statement and registration to benefit from temporary protection until 15 April 2022”. SAC found that the wording of the Decision is unclear, that no such deadline may be imposed and that temporary protection status may not be assigned automatically (without the consent of the beneficiary). The judgment of SAC is not final (cassation appeal is pending).
The case concerns the refusal by the Head of the Civil Registry Office of Kraków (Poland) to transcribe into the Polish register of civil status the birth certificate of the daughter of K.S. and her wife S.V.D., issued by Spanish authorities. This lack of registration hindered the issuance of a passport, which impacted the child’s freedom of movement.
The Court interpreted Articles 20 and 21 of the TFEU, to mean that the Member State of which a child of a same-sex couple is a national (i) is obliged to issue to that child an identity card or a passport without requiring the prior transcription of a birth certificate of that child into the national register of civil status, and (ii) is obliged to recognise the document from another Member State that permits the child to exercise, without impediment, the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
Article 25 of the French Civil Code provides that an individual may be stripped of their French nationality where, inter alia, it was acquired by naturalization and where the individual has been convicted of a crime that constituted an attack on the fundamental interests of France or an act of terrorism. Deprivation of French nationality is not allowed where it would render the individual stateless. The applicant was deprived of his French nationality, which he had acquired by naturalization, following a decision of the Paris Criminal Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris) convicting him for his participation in an association of criminals with a view to preparing an act of terrorism. That court found that he had joined a terrorist group and participated in training and armed operations of that group. The Council of State (Conseil d’État) upheld the decree of deprivation of nationality because the applicant held Algerian nationality since birth and could not be deprived of it since the Algerian code of nationality only authorises the deprivation of nationality for persons who have acquired it after birth. Therefore, the loss of French nationality would not render him stateless and was thus not illegal under French law. The Council of State also ruled on the proportionality of the decree with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and found that, given the seriousness of the crimes committed by the applicant, the challenged decree did not disproportionately infringe the right to respect for his private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the ECHR.
The claimant is a stateless person whose Romanian nationality was withdrawn by the National Citizenship Authority (“Autoritatea Nationala a Cetateniei”) on the grounds that he is known to have links with terrorist groups or has supported, in any form, or has committed other acts that endanger national security. Romania law provides that in such cases, the order issued by the National Citizenship Authority can be appealed in court, and the decision issued by this court is final and irrevocable. The claimant raises an objection of unconstitutionality with regard to this law, because it violates the principle of the double degree of jurisdiction provided for in the EU law in criminal matters, assimilating the matter in question with a criminal matter as defined by the EU law.
This case concerns a mother and child, NB and AB, stateless Palestinians formerly residing in Lebanon who are registered with UNRWA. AB is severely disabled and has complex medical issues and other needs. They sought asylum in the United Kingdom on the basis of Article 1D of the Refugee Convention. The Court considered whether they qualify to be granted ipso facto refugee status under Article 1D of the Refugee Convention. The Court found that the burden of proof lies with the applicants to prove that they have actually had recourse to UNRWA’s protection or assistance and that that protection or assistance has ceased, but, once that is established, if the authority considers that the applicant could now return to UNRWA’s area of operation, it is for that authority to demonstrate that the circumstances have changed in the area of operations concerned and that the applicant can access adequate protection or assistance from UNRWA. It also held that the applicant does not need to prove that there was any intentional infliction of harm or failure; it is sufficient to establish that UNRWA’s assistance or protection has in fact ceased for any reason (beyond the applicant’s control). The Court held, inter alia, that if UNRWA cooperates with a civil society or host government agency or actor to fulfil its mission, the services by those organisations are relevant to considerations of whether UNWRA can provide adequate assistance or protection only if there is a stable and formal relationship between UNRWA and the relevant organisations, and the applicant has a durable right to such services.
JY, an Estonian national, applied for Austrian nationality. As Austria operates a 'single nationality' approach, JY renounced her Estonian nationality after receiving an assurance that she would be granted Austrian nationality once proof of her renunciation was given. This assurance was subsequently revoked due to the applicant committing two road traffic offences, leaving her stateless. In its judgment, the CJEU confirmed that the situation falls within the scope of EU law, and that the authorities' decision to revoke an assurance to grant Austrian nationality was incompatible with the principle of proportionality considering the gravity of the offences committed. The Court noted that the concepts of ‘public policy’ and ‘public security’ must be interpreted strictly and clarified their meaning, concluding that it did not appear that JY represented a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society or a threat to public security in Austria. It also held that traffic offences, punishable by mere administrative fines, cannot be regarded as capable of demonstrating that the person is a threat to public policy and public security which may justify the permanent loss of their EU citizenship.
Bulgarian authorities refused to issue a birth certificate to the daughter of a Bulgarian mother and a British mother, who was born in Spain and issued a Spanish birth certificate with the names of both mothers, on the basis that it could only recognise parents of different genders. The Court found that where a birth certificate issued in another Member State designates parents of the same sex, the Member State of which the child is a national is required to issue an identity card or a passport to the child, without requiring a birth certificate to be drawn up beforehand by its national authorities. It also held that the Bulgarian authorities, and any other Member State, must recognise the parent-child relationship as established by the Spanish authorities for the purposes of permitting the exercise of the child’s right to move and reside freely within the EU, and any documents that would allow such travel.
The case concerns the eligibility for protection of a person born in Gaza, who holds a passport issued by the Palestinian National Authority, is registered with UNRWA, and sought asylum in Bulgaria. Interpreting Article 12(1)(a) of the 2011 Qualification Directive (equivalent to Article 1D of the Refugee Convention), the CJEU found that Article 1D, as lex specialis, must be considered prior to Article 1A of the Refugee Convention, that prior registration with UNRWA does not necessarily mean that the applicant could access sufficient protection in an UNRWA area, and that Palestinians are not included under the second paragraph of Article 1D and automatically entitled to protection if they could be admitted to any area where they could access effective assistance or protection from UNRWA and could live there in safe and dignified conditions for as long as necessary.
The case concerns the application of Article 12 of the Qualification Directive (recast Directive 2011/95) on the possibility for those whose support from United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has ceased to obtain international protection. The main issue was the determination of which country had been the applicant’s habitual place of residence to examine the reasons for protection. In the applicant’s case, while he had lived in Syria for a significant length of time, his ties to Algeria were strong enough to permit the Court to find the latter to be his habitual place of residence and consequently the applicant’s appeal was dismissed as Algeria was found to be safe.
The case concerned the rejection of the asylum applications submitted by a single mother and her five minor children, who are stateless Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and were registered with UNRWA. The Constitutional Court found a violation of equal treatment among foreigners and held that the Federal Administrative Court had failed to recognise the applicants’ right to ipso facto protection as refugees, disregarded UNHRC’s assessment criteria for the Gaza Strip, and did not give sufficient consideration of the vulnerability of a mother mother and her five minor children.
The case concerned the interpretation of Article 19 of the Directive (2011/95/EU, Qualification Directive). Specifically, the applicant had been granted subsidiary protection by the Austrian authorities on the mistaken basis that he was an Algerian national. The applicant was not responsible for the mistake, having rather declared throughout the proceedings that he was stateless. The CJEU held that under the Qualification Directive a State is under the obligation to revoke subsidiary protection if information emerges to prove that an individual never satisfied the requirements under the Directive.
The case concerns a stateless person of Palestinian origin who was refused asylum in Hungary. The question before the CJEU concerned the circumstances in which a person is considered to be receiving "protection or assistance from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than [UNHCR]" within the meaning of Article 12(1)(a) of the 2004 Qualification Directive (equivalent to Article 1D of the Refugee Convention), and may therefore be entitled to refugee status when that protection or assistance ceases. The CJEU held that the words “at present” mean the present day, and that a person receives protection or assistance from UNRWA when that person has actually availed themselves of that protection or assistance, and not if they are entitled to but have not done so. It also noted that persons who have not actually availed themselves of protection or assistance from UNRWA, prior to their application for refugee status, may, in any event, have that application examined pursuant to Article 2(c) of the Directive.
The communication concerned M.K.A.H., a stateless child, and whether Switzerland violated his rights under Articles 2 (2), 6, 7, 16, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 37 and 39 UNCRC when it decided to return him and his mother to Bulgaria, pursuant to the agreement between Switzerland and Bulgaria relating to the readmission of migrants in irregular situations, where they had previously obtained subsidiary protection.
Some of the findings of the Committee were that (i) Switzerland had not respected the best interests of the child nor heard him at the time of hearing the asylum request; (ii) the child ran a real risk of being subject to inhuman and degrading treatment in case of a return to Bulgaria; (iii) Switzerland had not sought to take the necessary measures to verify whether the child would be able to acquire a nationality in Bulgaria. The Committee also found that Article 7 UNCRC implicates that States must take the necessary positive actions to implement the right to acquire a nationality.
The applicant is from Western Sahara and identifies as a Sahrawi, a territory occupied by Morocco. Having fled to France, he argued that he should qualify as a stateless person even though his birth certificate indicates that he has Moroccan nationality. He argued that this matter should be referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling.
The case concerns the interpretation and scope of Article 12(1)(a) of the 2004 Qualification Directive (equivalent to Article 1D of the Refugee Convention). The CJEU held that persons who have registered with UNRWA or received UNRWA’s assistance will not be excluded from refugee status if that assistance has ceased for reasons beyond their control and independent of their volition. However, mere absence from UNRWA’s area of operation or a voluntary decision to leave it cannot be regarded as cessation of assistance. A person will be considered to have been forced to leave UNRWA’s area of operation where their personal safety was at serious risk and it was impossible for UNRWA to guarantee their living conditions. Where UNRWA’s assistance has ceased for reasons beyond the control of the applicant, and other exclusion clauses are not applicable, the applicant is automatically entitled to refugee status, but they are required to have made an application for refugee status.
The applicant challenged a decision depriving him of his British citizenship and excluding him from the United Kingdom because of his alleged involvement and link to terrorist-related activities. After failing in his appeals to the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Special Immigration Appeal Tribunal, the applicant complained to the European Court of Human Rights (‘the Court’) under Articles 8 and 14. The Court rejected all of the applicant’s complaints, finding them to be manifestly ill-founded, and declared the application inadmissible.
An Austrian national by birth transferred his residence to Germany and naturalised as a German national. The naturalisation in Germany had the effect, in accordance with Austrian law, of causing him to lose his Austrian nationality. The German authorities later withdrew the naturalisation with retroactive effect, on the grounds that the applicant had not disclosed that he was the subject of a criminal investigation in Austria on account of suspected serious fraud, and that he had thus obtained German nationality by deception. The Court held that it is not contrary to EU law for a Member State to withdraw nationality obtained by deception, even if it results in losing EU citizenship, so long as the decision observes the principle of proportionality. Observance of the principle of proportionality requires the person concerned to be afforded a reasonable period of time in order to try to recover the nationality of their Member State of origin.
The applicant is a dual Dutch/Moroccan national whose Dutch nationality was withdrawn on the basis of a criminal conviction for terrorist activities. The Court rejected the applicant's appeal, concluding, among others, that prevention of statelessness is a valid reason for differentiated treatment between those with a single and with multiple nationalities, and that withdrawal of nationality is not a punitive measure. Withdrawal of nationality in addition to the criminal sentence does not violate the principle that prohibits repeated punishments for the same action.
This case concerns a stateless applicant born in the Tajikistan Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, who was arrested for homelessness in Russia. The District Court ruled that he had to be preventively detained until his expulsion to Tajikistan. Russia tried to obtain travel documentation for the applicant, overlooking the fact that the applicant was not a Tajik national and that Tajikistan had no legal obligation to admit him, resulting in his preventive detention for two years. The Court found a violation of Article 5 ECHR, as the applicant’s detention was not carried out in good faith due to the lack of a realistic prospect of his expulsion and the domestic authorities’ failure to conduct the proceedings with due diligence.
Fourteen Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin and two stateless Kurds had their asylum applications rejected in Cyprus, on grounds of the accounts being either unsubstantiated, lacking credibility or, on the respective facts, being insufficient to establish a real risk of persecution. The applicants were arrested, detained, deported, and subjected to imprisonment for protesting the Government’s restrictive asylum policies. The grounds for deportation related to illegal entry and illegal stay. The applicants claimed that they had not received these orders but were informed orally of their deportation.
The applicants, a stateless Palestinian from Syria and two Syrian nationals, entered Russia in 2013 and were kept in a detention centre before their expulsion to Syria. The Court held that the Government’s actions breached the applicant’s rights provided under Articles 2 and 3. The Court also stated that Articles 5(4) and 5(1)(f) had been violated with regards to their detention. The Court also held that the restricted contact with their respective representatives had breached Article 34 of the Convention.
Five applicants of dual nationality, convicted in 2007 of participating in a criminal association in a terrorist context, were stripped of their French nationality in October 2015 by Prime Minister decrees. The Court held that the decision to forfeit the applicants’ French nationality did not have a disproportionate impact on their private lives and therefore was not in violation of Article 8 of the Convention.
A family of three applicants, who came to Latvia under the former Soviet Union, were denied permanent resident status following its independence and offered short term residence status and registration on the domestic register of residents. The second and third applicants have Russian nationality, while the first applicant has no nationality. Following complaints of their Article 8 and Article 34 rights being violated, it was held that Article 8 cannot guarantee the right to a particular type of residence permit.
The Georgian born applicant held former USSR citizenship until 2000, when she became stateless. Subsequently, she applied for residence registration in Moscow but was dismissed at first instance and on following appeals, due to failing to confirm her Georgian citizenship or apply for Russian citizenship. The Court ruled that there had been a violation of Article 2 § 1 of Protocol No. 4 and Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
The appellant is a former USSR national, living in Latvia. The case is concerned with whether Latvia’s refusal of citizenship to a person who had criticised the Government, constituted a punitive measure in violation of that individual’s rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 and freedom of assembly and association under Article 11. The Court found no violation of articles 10 and 11 as the denial of citizenship did not affect the appellant’s relevant rights. Contrary, it highlighted that there is no “right to a nationality” under the Convention, and no provision of Latvian law indicates the appellant’s right to Latvian citizenship.