On the 29th of June 2023, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in its judgment C‑756/21. The case concerned a Pakistani national who unsuccessfully applied for international protection in Ireland, on the basis of a false statement which he retracted on his first opportunity, and then on the grounds of his mental health condition and fear to go back to Pakistan after a traumatic event he had experienced there. In the course of the proceedings, the Irish High Court submitted preliminary questions to the CJEU.

The CJEU first held that the duty of cooperation under Article 4 (1) of the 2004 Qualification Directive 2004/83/EC requires authorities to obtain (i) up-to-date information concerning all the relevant facts as regards the general situation in the country of origin of an applicant for international protection and (ii) a medico-legal report on their mental health, where there is evidence of mental health problems and the use of such a report is necessary or relevant in order to assess the applicant’s genuine need for international protection, provided that the use of such a report comply, inter alia, with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Court then held that, in the context of a second level appeal provided for by national law, breaching this duty does not necessarily cause the annulment of the decision dismissing an appeal against the rejection of the application for international protection, as the applicant may be required by national law to demonstrate that the decision dismissing the appeal might have been different in the absence of that breach.

Furthermore, the CJEU ruled that Article 23 (2) and 39 (4) of the 2005 Procedure Directive 2005/85/EC must be interpreted as meaning that the elapsed periods of time between lodging the asylum application and the adoption of the decisions of the determining authority or of the competent court of first instance, cannot be justified by national legislative amendments made during those periods. However, the unreasonableness of one of those periods cannot, in the absence of any evidence that the excessive duration of the administrative or judicial proceedings affected the outcome of the dispute, justify setting aside the decision of the competent court of first instance.

Lastly, the CJEU held that Article 4(5)(e) 2004 Qualification Directive must be interpreted as meaning that a false statement, contained in the initial application for international protection, which was explained and withdrawn by the applicant for asylum at the first available opportunity, is not capable, by itself, of preventing the establishment of the applicant’s general credibility