France: Council of State reiterates right to adequate reception conditions

Friday, March 12, 2021

On 12 March 2021, the Council of State annulled the decision of an interim relief judge to reject a request to order the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) to provide material reception in the form of accommodation, allowance and temporary work permit.

The case concerns Ms C., a Burundian national who entered the French overseas department of Mayotte in 2010 with her son and submitted an application for asylum. The application was rejected at first instance in April 2020 and is currently being challenged before the National Court of Asylum. In the current proceedings, Ms. C is seeking to annul the decision to reject her request to order the OFII or the State to provide suitable accommodation for her and her son, to pay her allowance as an asylum applicant and to temporarily permit her to work. Ms. C. had not received assistance since 30 January 2020 and had been living with her son in a dwelling shared with twelve other people without access to running water or electricity.

The Council of State recalled Article 17 of the Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33) and its transposition into French law through the Code of entry and residence of foreigners and the right of asylum. However, with respect to asylum applicants registered in Mayotte, Article 761-1 of that Code provides that the usual reception conditions guaranteed may be adapted to the particular situation of Mayotte so that the provisions relating to the allowance of an asylum applicant in the mainland of France are not applicable and material assistance can be substituted.  It noted however that the Reception Conditions Directive did not merely create an option for a competent authority to provide material reception conditions but instead obliges them to do so until a final decision is taken on a request for asylum.
The Council of State found that the deprivation of material reception conditions that must be provided to an asylum applicant until a final decision constituted a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of a fundamental right. While the Council of State accepted that the accommodation facility in Mayotte would not be in a position to provide the applicant and her son reception, it ordered the State to grant her, without delay, material assistance sufficient to ensure she and her son could have a standard of living that guarantees their subsistence and protects their physical and mental health.

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team. Photo: Global Justice Now, September 19, 2015, Flickr (CC)

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.                               

Material reception conditions
Reception conditions