7 February 2014
In response to a question from the Danish Parliamentary Committee on Immigration and Integration Affairs on 9 January 2014, the Justice Minister announced on 5 February that returns of asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation to Bulgaria are suspended. According to the Danish Refugee Council, the authorities have not indicated that they will consequently assume responsibility for cases where Bulgaria is the state identified as responsible for examining the asylum claim.
The Parliamentary Committee asked the Justice Ministry to respond to UNHCR’s call in January 2014 urging Member States to stop sending asylum seekers back to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation. UNHCR and ECRE consider that asylum seekers in Bulgaria face a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment due to deficiencies in Bulgaria’s reception conditions and asylum procedure.
The Minister’s response notes that, in 2013, only 8 asylum seekers were sent to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation and there are currently no such transfers scheduled. Despite referencing a recent UNHCR update highlighting improvements in Bulgaria with regard to registration, food provision and living conditions, the Minister accepts that UNHCR’s observations are ‘a cause for concern’ and concludes that asylum seekers will not be sent back to Bulgaria until more ‘clarity’ is available.