The Netherlands: Court asks Secretary of State to update its healthcare information on Iran in light of COVID-19

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

On 01 December 2020, the Court of the Hague annulled the Dutch State Secretary for Justice and Security’s decision to deport an Iranian national with serious health issues. 
The State Secretary refused the applicant’s, an Iranian national, request to stay on medical grounds, even though it was officially attested that he suffered from severe heart problems, which could be fatal if he did not receive the right medication and treatment. The State Secretary considered that the applicant could receive the necessary treatment in Iran and underlined that the applicant had only referred to generally available information on Iran’s healthcare system, without specifying how this impacted his individual situation. In turn, the applicant insisted on the rapidly evolving sanitary situation in Iran, where a new COVID-wave had further weakened an already weak healthcare system, and underlined that new movement restriction could hinder access to healthcare facilities.
In its assessment, the Court considered the Council of State’s interpretation of the ECtHR Paposhvili-judgment and underlined that the burden of proof is shared; while the initial burden rests with the applicant, the national authorities also have to assess the degree of effective access that the third-country national has to healthcare in his or her country of origin. Specific circumstances, such as the cost of medication and treatment, the presence of a social network and the travel distance to obtain the necessary care, must be taken into account. It further held that the authorities should request guarantees from the country of origin regarding the availability and accessibility of medical care, which should be sufficient to deal with a situation that is potentially contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR, in case serious doubts remain after the asylum authorities’ investigation.
In that regard, the Court considered that the medical opinion on which the State Secretary’s decision was based, was not sufficiently up-to-date and failed to take the COVID-situation in the country into account. Therefore, it annulled the State Secretary’s decision and instructed him to take a new decision within ten weeks.  
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.                               

Country of origin information
Health (right to)
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment