The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) quashed Decision № 180/30.03.2022 by the Council of Minister which states the following: “Foreign citizens and stateless persons who have fled from Ukraine as a result of the military actions and who have entered and stayed on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria may receive temporary protection even without their explicit statement and registration to benefit from temporary protection until 15 April 2022”. SAC found that the wording of the Decision is unclear, that no such deadline may be imposed and that temporary protection status may not be assigned automatically (without the consent of the beneficiary). The cassation court which heard the appeal to that judgment upheld this decision with regard to imposing a deadline for temporary protection registration, but held that temporary protection can be assigned automatically.
The case concerns the eligibility for protection of a person born in Gaza, who holds a passport issued by the Palestinian National Authority, is registered with UNRWA, and sought asylum in Bulgaria. Interpreting Article 12(1)(a) of the 2011 Qualification Directive (equivalent to Article 1D of the Refugee Convention), the CJEU found that Article 1D, as lex specialis, must be considered prior to Article 1A of the Refugee Convention, that prior registration with UNRWA does not necessarily mean that the applicant could access sufficient protection in an UNRWA area, and that Palestinians are not included under the second paragraph of Article 1D and automatically entitled to protection if they could be admitted to any area where they could access effective assistance or protection from UNRWA and could live there in safe and dignified conditions for as long as necessary.
A stateless person of Palestinian origin, born in Kuwait resided in Bulgaria with his two children who were born in Bulgaria and hold Bulgarian nationality. His permanent residence permit in Bulgaria was withdrawn on the grounds that he was engaged in alleged religious extremism, and he was detained and subsequently deported to Syria. The Court held that there had been a violation of Articles 5(§4), 8, and 13 ECHR as a result of the deportation. In this judgment, the Court outlines the procedural safeguards required by the ECHR in decisions to detain a person for the purposes of deportation, including where an allegation of a threat to national security is made. The guarantee of an effective remedy requires some form of adversarial proceedings, and that the competent independent appeals authority must be able to assess whether the conclusion that a person is a threat to national security, which justifies deportation, is arbitrary or unreasonable.
The case concerns the appeal by the stateless person from Kuwait, Mr. Sager Al-Anezi, against the decision of the asylum authorities in Bulgaria to reject his application for international protection as manifestly unfounded under a fast-track procedure carried out while Mr.Al-Anezi was placed in detention for removal. By a final judgment, the Sofia City Administrative Court allowed the appeal of Mr. Al-Anezi. The court judgment contains inter alia detailed analysis on the significance of the right to nationality as a fundamental human right; the application of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to stateless persons and the situation of Bidoon in Kuwait.
The case originated in an application against Bulgaria lodged by a stateless person of Palestinian origin. He had obtained subsidiary protection in Bulgaria, but was later served an expulsion order on national security grounds, detained for removal for 18 months and then released due to the impossibility of implementing the expulsion order. The Court reiterates that States have an obligation to identify a destination country in removal orders, stating that “In cases of aliens detained with a view to deportation, lack of clarity as to the destination country could hamper effective control of the authorities’ diligence in handling the deportation”. The Court held that detention with an uncertain destination is violates Articles 3, 5, and 13 ECHR.
A stateless person of Chechen origin, whose real identity could not be determined with certainty, was detained in Bulgaria for several years. His application for asylum was rejected, but he stayed in detention as several countries denied him the right to enter. By the time the case reached the CJEU, the applicant had been in detention for 37 months. The court ruled that where there is no reasonable prospect of successful expulsion, individuals cannot be detained. The Court ruled on several points regarding the interpretation of Article 15(4) to (6) of Directive 2008/115/EC (EU Returns Directive), including on the calculation of the maximum period of detention. The Court also interpreted the concept of a (lack of) reasonable prospect of removal within the meaning of Article 15(4) of the Returns Directive, according to which detention ceases to be justified and the person concerned must be released immediately when it appears that, for legal or other considerations, a reasonable prospect of removal no longer exists.