On the 8th of May 2023, the Administrative Court of Braunschweig delivered its decision 2 A 269/22. The case concerned an Iraqi couple with six children who applied for asylum in Germany. Their asylum claims were rejected because they already submitted an asylum application in Croatia. Germany submitted take back requests which were accepted by the Croatian authorities hence Germany issued deportation orders supplemented by entry-bans.

The Court first declared that arbitrary returns have been an integral part of Croatia’s interior migration management. It noted the systemic deficiencies in Croatia’s asylum system as the authorities regularly push asylum applicants back across the European Union (EU) external border without individually examining their asylum applications or deport them to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of chain deportations or collective expulsions. The Court then highlighted that Croatia may have noticed that the EU ignores, if not condones, their systemic human rights violations. The country joined Schengen and did not face any infringement proceedings, therefore it is not clear why the Croatian authorities should shy away from violating the Dublin Regulation, while already regularly violating the Refugee Convention, the ECHR and the Qualification Directive.

Due to available evidence, the mutual trust principle has been permanently shaken by the proven systemic deficiencies in Croatia’s asylum system and reception conditions. The Court emphasised that artificially separating risks to be faced by the Dublin returnees from those faced by the other asylum applicants is only justified if returnees are not threatened by them. However, trust in guarantees provided by Croatia is no longer justified, and a lack of independent knowledge by German authorities cannot be relied upon as it is the responsibility of the MS to conduct investigations. The Court therefore ruled that there is a considerable risk that the applicants will be denied access to the asylum if returned to Croatia, while highlighting that there are insufficient indications that the cases of children might receive more consideration. Hence, the Court ruled that the deportation orders and entry-bans are unlawful.

Based on an unofficial translation from within the EWLU team

We would like to thank Abby d’Arcy, working for the ECCHR, for bringing this case to our attention