The German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has introduced new rules of procedure which restrict “church asylum”, the temporary sanctuary offered by religious institutions to people facing deportation to protect them from undue hardship. Church asylum cases mostly concern transfers to another European country under the Dublin III Regulation: out of 552 ongoing church asylum cases as of 15 August 2018, 512 concerned Dublin transfers.


The maximum period for the implementation of a Dublin transfer based on Article 29(2) of the Dublin Regulation can be extended from 6 to 18 months on the ground that the applicant has “absconded”. Under the BAMF rules, which took effect on 1 August 2018, such an extension for reasons of “absconding” can be ordered under a number of circumstances, including where: (a) church asylum is not notified on the day it is provided; (b) the file is not transmitted to the BAMF within a four-week period to justify grounds of hardship; or (c) church asylum was only provided after a negative decision from the BAMF.


These measures have been criticised by religious and refugee-supporting organisations, and run counter to the approach taken by courts. In a ruling of 16 May 2018, the Administrative High Court of Bavaria held, in line with the dominant position of domestic case law, that a person receiving church asylum whose whereabouts are reported to the BAMF cannot be considered as “absconding” from the Dublin procedure. Accordingly, the authorities are not allowed to extend the Dublin transfer period from 6 to 18 months based on the Dublin Regulation.


The number of Dublin transfers effectively prevented through church asylum was 1,478 last year and 498 in the first quarter of 2018.


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*This information was first published by AIDA.

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