Human Rights Committee rules in a case concerning the risk of an applicant’s return from Denmark to Italy

Thursday, October 18, 2018

On 18 October, the U.N. Human Rights Committee (Committee) decided in a case concerning the Dublin transfer from Denmark to Italy of a Somali national, along with her new-born child.

The transfer order was issued following the Danish authorities’ rejection of the applicant’s asylum application because she already held subsidiary protection status in Italy. The applicant claimed that transferring her and her child to Italy would expose them to a risk of irreparable harm, in violation of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Covenant). The Committee instructed Denmark to refrain from deporting the author and her child to Italy while their case was under consideration.

The Committee first observed that although beneficiaries of international protection are generally entitled to work and enjoy social rights in Italy, the social system in the country is generally insufficient to cover all persons in need. However, it noted that the applicant failed to substantiate a real and personal risk upon return to Italy, as she did not explain why she would not be able to seek the protection of the Italian authorities in case of unemployment. It further held that the fact that she may be confronted with difficulties upon return does not mean that she would be in a special situation of vulnerability – or in a situation significantly different to many other refugee families – such as to conclude that her return to Italy would violate Article 7 of the Covenant.

Furthermore, the applicant failed to explain why the transfer decision was manifestly unreasonable or arbitrary or to point out any procedural irregularities in the procedures before the Danish authorities and courts. Accordingly, the Committee concluded that they would not face a personal and real risk of treatment contrary to article 7 if removed to Italy.

In three dissenting opinions, it was contended that Danish authorities (1) failed to consider the overall human rights and political situation in Italy, especially the recent anti-immigration policies and the country’s difficult economic conditions; (2) did not take into account the applicants’ personal circumstances and failed to seek effective assurances from the Italian authorities that the applicants would be received in appropriate conditions; (3) failed to take into consideration the need to respect the right of the applicant’s son to adequate measures of protection under article 24 of the Covenant.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA 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.                                                     


Dublin Transfer
Family unity (right to)
Material reception conditions
Personal circumstances of applicant
Reception conditions
Subsidiary Protection