Judging the Charter

The Charter in judicial practise with a special focus on the case of protection of refugees and asylum seekers

Moussa Sacko

Case Number: C-348/16

Relevance of Decision

Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, in particular Articles 12, 14, 31 and 46 thereof, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as not precluding the national court hearing an appeal against a decision rejecting a manifestly unfounded application for international protection from dismissing the appeal without hearing the applicant. This where the factual circumstances leave no doubt as to whether that decision was well founded, on condition that, first, during the proceedings at first instance, the applicant was given the opportunity of a personal interview on his or her application for international protection.

Facts of the case

Upon arriving in Italy on 20 March 2015, Mr Sacko submitted an application for international protection. On 10 March 2016, the Regional Commission interviewed Mr Sacko concerning his situation and the reasons for his application. By the interview, it was apparent that Mr Sacko had left Mali because of a serious deterioration in his personal economic circumstances. The Italian Regional Commission rejected the application of Mr Sacko for international protection, refusing either to grant him refugee status or to consider him eligible for subsidiary protection and stating that the application was based on strictly economic grounds and that he did not have any well-founded fear of persecution.

On 3 May 2016, Mr Sacko lodged an appeal against that decision before the referring court, reiterating the grounds of his application for international protection and giving a general description of the situation in Mali but nevertheless failing to indicate how that situation affected his personal circumstances. The referring court indicates that it is minded to dismiss Mr Sacko’s appeal as manifestly unfounded, without first giving him the opportunity to be heard.

Legal Questions

The Tribunal di Milano has decided to maintain proceedings and to refer the following question to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling:

‘Must Directive 2013/32 (in particular Articles 12, 14, 31 and 46) be interpreted as permitting a procedure, such as the Italian procedure (under Article 19(9) of Legislative Decree No 150 of 2011), whereby a judicial authority seized by an asylum-seeker — whose application has been rejected by the administrative authority responsible for considering applications for asylum after it has conducted a full examination, including an interview — may, in cases where the application for judicial review is manifestly unfounded and the administrative authority’s rejection of the application is thus incontrovertible, dismiss the application for judicial review without preparatory inquiries and without being required to afford the applicant a further opportunity to be heard?’

Court Findings

“Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, in particular Articles 12, 14, 31 and 46 thereof, read in the light of Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, must be interpreted as not precluding the national court or tribunal hearing an appeal against a decision rejecting a manifestly unfounded application for international protection from dismissing the appeal without hearing the applicant where the factual circumstances leave no doubt as to whether that decision was well founded, on condition that, first, during the proceedings at first instance, the applicant was given the opportunity of a personal interview on his or her application for international protection, in accordance with Article 14 of the directive, and the report or transcript of the interview, if an interview was conducted, was placed on the case-file, in accordance with Article 17(2) of the directive, and, second, the court hearing the appeal may order that a hearing be conducted if it considers it necessary for the purpose of ensuring that there is a full and ex nunc examination of both facts and points of law, as required under Article 46(3) of the directive”.

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