Non-refoulement: is part of the EU’s qualification Directive invalid?

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Series Details 14.01.17
Publication Date 14/01/2017
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The absolute character of the principle of non-refoulement – the ban on removal to an unsafe country – is widely acknowledged. Still, there is confusion and insecurity on this point with regard to the Qualification Directive, which defines how to determine if someone enjoys refugee or subsidiary protection status within the EU.

On 14 July 2016, a Czech Court (the Nejvyšší správní soud) asked the Court of Justice EU whether Article 14(4) of the EU Qualification Directive, allowing for revoking, ending or refusing to renew refugee status for reasons of criminal behaviour or a security risk, is invalid in the light of the principle of non-refoulement (Case C-391/16). In its explanation, the Czech Court points out that ‘the binding nature of the prohibition on the return of persons in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement forms part of the obligation not to subject anyone to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 3 ECHR and Article 4 and Article 19(2) of the Charter, and it applies whenever there is a real risk of such treatment occurring as a result of forced deportation or extradition’.

The question of the Czech court is important. In the author's view, a well-reasoned answer can only be given if the ambivalent structure of the Qualification Directive on this point is acknowledged and addressed. In this comment the author analyses the problems to be solved.

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Related Links
ESO: Background information: Non-refoulement, push-backs and the EU response to irregular migration
ESO: Background information: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection and for the content of the protection granted and amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of 25 November 2003 concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents

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