The applicant is a Palestinian refugee born in an UNRWA refugee camp in Lebanon. The applicant argues that the Secretary of State failed to acknowledge that he is stateless when applying the exclusion clause of Article 1D of the Refugee Convention. The Hague District Court refers to case law from 2017 which states that statelessness determination is not a requirement during an asylum procedure if it is not essential for the decision on the application.
- Article 29 Aliens Act 2000
- Article 8 ECHR
- Article 1D Refugee Convention
The applicant is a Palestinian born in Lebanon and lived between Lebanon, Libya and Syria. While living in the refugee camp in Lebanon, he was approached by Harakat Al Jihad Al Aslamiah (2016) and by Hezbollah (2017) for recruitment purposes. The applicant also faced discrimination by Lebanese Palestinians. Between June 2015 and 2022, the applicant resided in Lebanon after he sent his wife and children from Syria to Turkey. The applicant fled Lebanon in November 2020 to the Netherlands via Turkey. On 27 December 2020, he applied for asylum in the Netherlands.
The applicant claims that because the Secretary of State questions whether the applicant is stateless, the Secretary of State should assess whether the inclusion clause of Article 1D Refugee Convention is applicable to him. In the applicant’s view, the Secretary failed to recognise his statelessness in the contested decision. The applicant adds that he fears persecution by Jihad Al Aslamiah and Hezbollah because of his refusal to answer their calls for recruitment, in addition to discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon.
Furthermore, the applicant argues that the Secretary wrongly considers Lebanon to be his place of habitual residence instead of Syria based on the evidence he submitted. The applicant fears deportation to Syria from Lebanon if he returns.
Lastly, the applicant argues that the contested decision is in violation of Article 8 ECHR, because Germany refuses to recognise his marriage to his wife. Return to Lebanon, or indirectly Syria, would mean he can no longer see his family.
The Secretary of State argues that the exclusion clause of Article 1D of the Refugee Convention is applicable, because of the presence of UNRWA in the camp from which applicant received assistance and the fact that the applicant voluntarily left UNRWA area of operation. The applicant failed to demonstrate that he is unable to return because of a well-founded fear of persecution, deportation or discrimination. The applicant’s claim to family reunification (Article 8 ECHR), in the view of the Secretary, is also unsuccessful.
With regards to statelessness, the Court refers to a 2017 judgment from the Council of State (Raad van State) (ECLI:NL:RVS:2017:3385) which concludes that statelessness of a foreigner does not have to be determined if this aspect is irrelevant for the decision on the asylum application. Further to that, the Court clarifies that it follows from the case X.T. of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECLI:EU:C:2021:3) that whether the applicant received assistance from UNRWA can be determined when assessing the applicability of the exclusion clause, before looking at the inclusion clause. The Court adds that based on the Country-of-Origin Information Report on Palestinians from Lebanon (July 2021), UNRWA is capable to fulfil its mandate in Lebanon. The Court reasons that the exclusion clause of Article 1D Refugee Convention is applicable.
The Court follows the reasoning of the Secretary in that the applicant will not face significant damage upon return to Lebanon because he would not be viewed as a Lebanese Palestinian. The statements of threats from Haraket al Jihad Al Aslamiah and Hezbollah and arrest by the security forces because of his viewpoints are based on assumptions and are insufficiently motivated. Based on the above reasoning, the applicant voluntarily left the camp in Lebanon. Hence, the inclusion clause is not applicable and the applicant is not eligible for asylum on the grounds of Article 29 (1)(b) Aliens Act 2000.
The Court refers to a 2019 judgement from the Council of State (Raad van State) (ECLI:NL:RVS:2019:557) regarding the country of habitual residence. The Court reiterates that in determining the country of habitual residence, the nature and period of the stay as well as the relationship to the country are relevant. Further, it follows that the opposing party can determine more than one country of habitual residence but is not obliged to do so. Based on Lebanon being the applicant’s birth place, his UNRWA registration card from Lebanon and additional facts and circumstances, the opposing party correctly indicated Lebanon as his country of habitual residence. The Court adds that it is unlikely that the applicant would be deported from Lebanon to Syria. Hence, the Court finds no interest for the applicant to have Syria as his country of residual residence.
In the view of the Court, the applicant also failed to substantiate that his wife and children are legally residing in Germany, or that the applicant and the family live together. The Court adds that in case the applicant claims his right to family reunion on the basis on his wife and children’s German residence, the applicant is to resort to the German legal procedure to address his case.
- Country of Origin Information Report on Palestinians from Lebanon (July 2021): https://www.tweedekamer.nl/kamerstukken/detail?id=2021D26728&did=2021D26728
- 4 July 2018, ECLI:NL:RVS:2018:2169
- 7 December 2017, ECLI:NL:RVS:2017:3385
- CJEU - Bundesrepublik Deutschland v XT, case C‑507/19, 13 January 2021, ECLI:EU:C:2021:3
- CJEU - Bolbol, case C-31/09, 17 June 2010, ECLI:EU:C:2010:351 (point 51)
- CJEU - El Kott and Others, case C-364/11,19 December 2012, ECLI:EU:C:2012:836
- CJEU - Alheto, case C-585/16, 25 July 2018, ECLI:EU:C:2018:584