The State Secretary J&V (Justice and Security) must better motivate transfer of foreign nationals to Croatia.

The State Secretary for Justice and Security must investigate whether transferring foreign nationals to Croatia on the basis of the European Dublin Regulation is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The State Secretary can no longer assume without further investigation that Croatia is complying with the requirements of the ECHR. This is the judgment of the Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Council of State in two judgments of today (April 13, 2022).

Background
An Egyptian and an Algerian national first applied for asylum in Croatia and then again in the Netherlands. The State Secretary has not considered the asylum applications and plans to transfer the foreign nationals to Croatia. Under the Dublin Regulation, Croatia, as a Member State, is responsible for processing asylum applications, because the aliens applied for asylum there for the first time. The applicants do not agree with this, because according to them the situation for foreigners in Croatia is contrary to the ECHR. They therefore do not want to return to Croatia.

Principle of mutual trust
On the basis of the so-called principle mutual trust, Member States of the European Union may assume in advance that the situation in another Member State does not conflict with the ECHR. Nevertheless, there may be grounds for further investigation if there are doubts as to whether the situation in another Member State meets the requirements of the ECHR.

Further investigation needed due to pushbacks
The Administrative Jurisdiction Division has ruled that the State Secretary must conduct further investigation in the case of Croatia. So-called pushbacks, whereby aliens are unable to apply for asylum, have been taking place on a large scale and for a long time on the external border of Croatia. Sources show that there are serious indications that pushbacks do not only take place when aliens cross the border illegally. The risk of pushbacks also exists for foreigners who have been re-admitted by Croatia from other Member States and for aliens who are deeper in Croatia's interior.

Consequence of the statements
The State Secretary is therefore no longer allowed to transfer aliens to Croatia on the basis of the Dublin Regulation without first investigating the current facts and circumstances. The State Secretary will in any case have to investigate whether so-called Dublin claimants are included in the asylum procedure after transfer to Croatia. With these rulings, the Administrative Jurisdiction Division arrives at a different conclusion than in its decision of 19 July 2021.

Unofficial translation of Press Release https://www.raadvanstate.nl/uitspraken/@130732/202102939-1-v3/ 

Decision in Dutch

Comments:
State Secretary for Justice and Security must investigate whether transferring aliens to Croatia on the basis of the European Dublin Regulation is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
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