Hungary: Requests for a preliminary ruling on the obligation to remain in transit zones during asylum application procedures

Friday, February 21, 2020

On 18 December 2019, the Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged in Hungary brought two similar requests for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in cases C-924/19 and C-925/19 (PPU).

The cases concern two families who applied for international protection in the transit zone on the border between Hungary and Serbia. All the applicants remained in the transit zone for duration of their asylum proceedings, as this was their assigned place of residence after the Hungarian Government declared a crisis situation. Before the domestic courts, the applicants complained, inter alia, that their asylum applications had not been properly examined on their merits and that the authorities had not fulfilled their obligations by failing to allocate a place of residence outside of the transit zone.

The Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged in Hungary decided to stay the proceedings and refer a number of preliminary questions to the CJEU, including questions concerning the interpretation of the Asylum Procedures (APD) and Returns Directives (RD) read in light of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (CFREU).  Firstly, the CJEU is asked whether Article 33 of Directive 2013/32 may be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation pursuant to which an application is inadmissible in the context of the asylum procedure when the applicant has arrived in that Member State via a country where they are not exposed to persecution or a risk of serious harm, or in which a sufficient degree of protection is guaranteed.

Secondly, concerning the conduct of an asylum procedure, the national court asks, inter alia, whether provisions of Directive 2013/32 read in light of Article 18 CFREU should be interpreted as guaranteeing an asylum applicant an access to an asylum procedure where their asylum application was initially deemed inadmissible, but the applicant concerned cannot be readmitted to the third country in question. In case of a positive response, the referring court requests the CJEU to elaborate on the scope of the obligations of authorities concerned.

Thirdly, on the issue of detention in Hungarian transit zones, the CJEU is also asked to consider, inter alia, whether Article 43 Directive 2013/32 is to be interpreted as precluding legislation of Member State which allows the detention of applicants in transit zone for more than four weeks. The referring court further asks, inter alia, whether the accommodation in the transit zone in the circumstances analogous to the core of the case in question (where no voluntary departure in any direction is legally possible from a transit zone) constitutes detention.

Fourthly, the referring court also asks the CJEU to consider a number of questions on the interpretation of the Returns Directive in light of the CFREU. The questions on this issue include, inter alia, whether the allocation of accommodation in transit zones during pending return procedures amounts to a deprivation of liberty and whether such a deprivation of liberty is compatible with the Returns Directive.  Finally, the referring court asks whether Article 13 RD read in light of Article 47 CFREU requires an access by the applicant to a remedy whereby the court has a jurisdiction to examine the decision modifying the country of return at least once. 

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 pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                                                  


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