28 April 2016

The Administrative Tribunal of Paris has delivered several judgments ordering prefectural authorities to complete the registration of asylum applications by persons facing excessive delays in accessing the procedure. The Administrative Tribunal ruled that the failure to comply with the time-limit to register asylum claims constitutes a serious and manifestly illegal infringement upon the fundamental right to asylum. In accordance with Article 6 of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, the French Asylum and Immigration Code, Ceseda, requires prefectures to register asylum applications within 3 days; the deadline can be extended to 10 days in case of large numbers of asylum applications.

Failure to comply with the 3-day or 10-day time-limit for registering an asylum application has been documented as a common problem beyond France. In Austria, ECRE’s fact-finding visit found that asylum seekers have faced delays of several months just to get an appointment for the first stage of registration before the police (Erstbefragung). The full registration of the claim could not take place where accommodation places were not available, thereby leaving asylum seekers in homelessness and legal limbo.

In Greece, where registration before the Asylum Service can take place only on the basis of appointments booked via Skype, access appears even more restricted. Organisations including the Greek Council for Refugees detail asylum seekers’ numerous unsuccessful attempts to reach the Asylum Service via Skype in order to schedule an appointment at the Athens or Thessaloniki offices. While the Asylum Service is designing an emergency plan to register asylum applications across the country’s accommodation facilities, those seeking protection in Greece must continue to rely on Skype in order to access the procedure for the time being.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 29 April 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.