A new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) increases human rights protection for asylum seekers in the Dublin system. It establishes that a Dublin transfer should be halted if the asylum seeker to be transferred faces an individual risk of inhuman or degrading treatment because of his individual situation. This is notably the case in circumstances where the transfer of an asylum seeker, with a particularly serious mental or physical condition, leads to the applicant’s health significantly deteriorating, the Court says. A Member State should suspend the transfer for as long as the applicant’s health condition does not render him capable of such a transfer.

The case concerned a couple with a new-born child who applied for asylum in Slovenia, whereas Croatia was responsible for their asylum claim according to the criteria under the Dublin Regulation. The mother suffered from depression and periodic suicidal tendencies. While the Court held that the Croatian asylum system is not systematically flawed, the transfer would have presented a serious risk to the woman due to her specific and individual situation. The Court ruled that the individual situation of the woman had to be considered and the transfer had therefore to be halted.

“The ruling in CK and Others is crucial since it establishes that evidence of systemic deficiencies in an EU Member State is not the sole criterion to prevent a Dublin transfer. Instead the CJEU aligns itself with previous case law from the European Court of Human Rights and finds that Member States must assess the risks to the individual, and in light of their specific profile, before transferring that person under Dublin. If the receiving Member State cannot provide for the individual’s specific needs then the transfer must be prevented,” says Amanda Taylor, EDAL Coordinator