French Council of State – taking into account information from anonymous sources

Monday, June 19, 2017

On 19 June 2017, the French Council of State ruled on case no. 389868 related to the usage of information from anonymous sources by the National Court of Asylum (CNDA). The case concerned a national from Sri Lanka who was granted refugee status in February 2015 by a decision of the CNDA after appealing against an initial negative decision by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless people (OFPRA). Subsequently, OFPRA requested the Council of State to overturn the CNDA’s decision, principally on the basis of Article 1F of the 1951 Refugee Convention (exclusion clauses). According to OFPRA, the CNDA had erred in law by solely relying on documents which sources were known, thus disregarding information that had been anonymised to guarantee the security of the source.
Firstly, the Council of State affirmed that is up to the administrative judge to order the parties to submit all necessary documents so as to verify the allegation (in casu that the applicant had been personally involved in the preparation of terrorist attacks in relation to the organisation The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), while guaranteeing respect for the principle of equality of arms. When confronted with information from anonymous sources, a judge is to take it into consideration, but should not exclusively rely on it to reach a decision. The Council of State understood that the CNDA had refused to look at the anonymised information altogether, thus erring in law. Therefore, it quashed the decision and sent the case back to the CNDA.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

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