CJEU: Judgment on the concept of ‘other authorities’ able to receive requests for international protection

Thursday, June 25, 2020

On the 25 June 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union published its judgment in C-36/20 concerning the interpretation of “other authorities” competent to receive asylum applications, and the use of detention measures in cases where it is not possible to find accommodation in a humanitarian protection centre.

The applicant, a Malian citizen, was intercepted by the Spanish Coast Guard at the island of Gran Canaria in December 2019. After an order for his removal was issued the following day, the applicant affirmed before the examining magistrate that he wished to make an application for international protection. The judge ordered the applicant’s access to the Spanish asylum reception system but, due to the lack of available places in humanitarian reception centres, the national authorities placed him in a detention centre. The referring court stayed proceedings and referred questions to the CJEU on, inter alia, the interpretation of the Qualification Directive and whether an examining magistrate can be considered one of the “other authorities” competent to receive applications for international protection. The CJEU was also asked to interpret whether Article 26 of Directive 2013/32 and Article 8 of Directive 2013/33 allow for the detention of the applicant, once he expressed his will to apply for international protection. The Opinion of Advocate General Szpunar was published on 30 April 2020.

The Court noted, inter alia, that a restricted interpretation of the “other authorities” competent to receive an asylum application would undermine the aim of Directive 2013/32 to guarantee an effective and rapid access to asylum procedures. As such, the Court held that an examining magistrate called upon to adjudicate the detention of a third-country national with legal residence falls under the concept of ‘other authority’ within the meaning of Article 6(1) Qualification Directive. It added that an examining magistrate must provide the applicant with the relevant information as to where and how such an application can be lodged, and must transfer the file to the competent authority for registration, so that the applicant can obtain the benefit of reception measures.

Moreover, from the point of time when an applicant expresses his intention to apply for international protection before one of the “other authorities” referred to in Article 6(1) of Directive 2013/32, the applicant’s status shall be covered by the guarantees provided for by Article 8 of Directive 2013/33. As such, an applicant may only be detained following an individual examination determining it to be necessary. It therefore held that the fact it is not possible to find accommodation in the reception system does not justify holding an applicant for international protection in detention.

Many thanks to Francesca Zalambani, legal assistant at ECRE, for assisting the EWLU team with this summary. 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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