Supreme Administrative Court Decision of 21 April 2004
|Publisher||Finland: Supreme Administrative Court|
|Author||Supreme Administrative Court|
|Publication Date||21 April 2004|
|Citation / Document Symbol||856/KHO 707/3/03|
|Cite as||Supreme Administrative Court Decision of 21 April 2004, 856/KHO 707/3/03, Finland: Supreme Administrative Court, 21 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/421f085c4.html [accessed 13 February 2016]|
1. Procedure in the Supreme Administrative Court
X has applied for a leave to appeal on the decision of the Administrative Court because it is important to have the case examined by the Supreme Administrative Court for the application of law in similar cases. The appeal is to overrule the decision of the Administrative Court and to grant a residence permit on grounds of a need of protection or reasonableness. X is Ashkali. He is in need of protection because of his ethnic background.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR has published in January 2003 a position on protection needs of persons in Kosovo and a briefing note on minority groups in Kosovo. They have stated that minority groups are still in need of international protection owing to their difficult situation.
The Directorate of Immigration has given its statement on the application for a leave to appeal and the appeal and X has given his rejoinder on it.
On a request of the Supreme Administrative Court the Directorate of Immigration has given supplementary statement and X his rejoinder on the statement.
2. Decision of the Supreme Administrative Court
Leave to appeal is granted. The decisions of the Administrative Court and the Directorate of Immigration are overruled and the case is returned to the Directorate of Immigration for a new procedure.
3. Statement of the reasons by the Court
Pursuant to Section 31 of the Aliens' Act an alien residing in the country can be granted a residence permit on grounds of need of protection when he is threatened in his home country or country of habitual residence with death penalty, torture or other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or, owing to an armed conflict or environmental catastrophe, is unable to return there.
X has been evacuated from a refugee camp in Macedonia to Finland on 28 April 1999. The Directorate of Immigration has granted on 18 June 1999 he and his family residence permits on grounds of need of protection for the period between 18 June 1999 and 18 May 2000 but has rejected their applications for new, fixed-term residence permits. X and his family were separated permanently on 14 August 2000. X is Ashkali or Roma by ethnic origin.
The Directorate of Immigration has in its statement to the Administrative Court referred to UNHCR and OSCE's periodical report from March-August 2001 and the Administrative Court referred in its decision to UNHCR's Mid-year progress report from September 2002 on the situation of the former Yugoslavia, in which there has been information on the organisation's attempts to improve conditions for the minorities to return and to support them. According to the statement given by UNHCR's regional office in Stockholm the mentioned reports do not concern the security or position of an individual but, instead, give information on the organisation's activities and duties in Kosovo. The measures to enhance return does not mean that it is possible in each individual case concerning a member of a minority group to do so.
UNHCR has, in its position reports on individuals in need of international protection in Kosovo in 2002 and 2003, emphasized that members of minority groups must not be returned to Kosovo by force nor be persuaded to return there. The reports reveal several violent acts against the minorities and also the poor social conditions of the minorities who are forced to live in camps built specifically for this purpose. As concerns X's hometown Prishtina, it has specifically been stated that it is dangerous for the minorities to move around in the town.
X has resided, after having escaped the war in Kosovo, first in a refugee camp in Macedonia and after that, since 1999, in Finland as a resettled refugee. Even if the facts effecting his need of international protection are in many ways unclear, there is reasonable evidence in his case that he belongs to such a minority in Kosovo that UNHCR considers in continuing need of international protection (UNHCR`s position renewed in January 2003) and whose return to Kosovo can take place in security and dignity only on a voluntary basis.
As X is, in the prevailing circumstances, in a real danger to be subjected upon return to Kosovo to inhuman on degrading treatment, the Supreme Administrative Court holds that he is in need of protection pursuant to Section 31 of the Aliens' Act.