The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered today its judgment in Haqbin, where it ruled that Member States cannot order the withdrawal, even temporary, of material reception conditions in case an asylum seeker seriously violates the house rules of a reception centre or exhibits violent behaviour.

Article 20(4) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive permits states to lay down sanctions against such conduct. In its reference for a preliminary ruling, the Belgian referring court requested the CJEU to clarify whether a withdrawal of material reception conditions would be permissible.

The Court found that a withdrawal of accommodation, food and clothing, even for a short period of time, would be incompatible with states’ duty to ensure applicants a dignified standard of living under Article 20(5) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as the principle of proportionality. The CJEU noted that permissible sanctions against serious breaches of house rules and violent behaviour include accommodation in separate parts of the reception centre, prohibition on contacting certain residents or transfer to a different facility.

Several EU countries (e.g. Belgium, the Netherlands, Romania, Italy, Spain, Greece) currently allow withdrawal of material reception conditions as a sanction where an applicant seriously violates the house rules of a reception centre or exhibits violent behaviour

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*This information was first published by AIDA, managed by ECRE.


Photo: (CC) katarina_dzurekova, January 2015

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.