Germany: Administrative Court of Hanover grants an urgent application against a Dublin return order to Lithuania due to concerns over the asylum procedure and reception conditions
On 23 February 2022, the Administrative Court of Hanover gave its decision in a case concerning a return to Lithuania under the Dublin III Regulation. The applicant entered Lithuania through Belarus and then continued to Germany where they applied for asylum. However, Germany deemed Lithuania the responsible state for the applicant's asylum procedure and sent a take-back request to Lithuania and on its approval, a removal order to the applicant. The applicant subsequently applied to the Hanover Court for suspensive effect to take action against the removal to Lithuania.
The Court determined that from Article 13 of the Dublin III Regulation, which refers to the entry criteria, Lithuania was originally responsible for processing the asylum claim of the applicant. However, the Court referred to Article 3(2) of the Regulation and elaborated that there is evidence to suggest that Germany should have continued to examine which Member State was responsible and to designate a competent state other than Lithuania. In this analysis, the Court referred to the principle of mutual trust and set out that it must be seriously feared that an asylum applicant will be threatened with a considerable probability of inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3 ECHR and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union due to deficiencies in the asylum system of the responsible Member State. It also referred to the case of Jawo.
Furthermore, the Court found that there were serious indications that the asylum procedure and reception conditions in Lithuania showed signs of systemic weaknesses which could cause a risk of inhuman and degrading treatment. The Court referred to the increase in border crossings from Belarus in the summer of 2021 and Lithuania's response of tightening borders and its asylum system. It furthermore noted the many safeguarding and reception concerns on the ground and derived that there is no evidence to suggest that asylum applicants who are returned under Dublin procedure will be accommodated and treated differently. The Court thereby held that there are open prospects of success for the action against the deportation order and that the applicant's interest in suspension of the order outweighs the public interest in its enforcement.
Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU team.
Source: ELENA Weekly Legal Update of 18 March 2022.
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