Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 15:20 GMT

Applicant v. State Secretary for Security and Justice

Publisher Netherlands, The: The Hague District Court
Publication Date 19 October 2020
Citation / Document Symbol ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2020:10437
Other Languages / Attachments Decision in Dutch
Cite as Applicant v. State Secretary for Security and Justice, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2020:10437, Netherlands, The: The Hague District Court, 19 October 2020, available at:,NTL_HDC,5f96acb64.html [accessed 17 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Netherlands: Inadmissibility of asylum applications by Syrian nationals enjoying refugee status in Bulgaria insufficiently justified

On 19 October 2020, the Court of The Hague ruled that the State Secretary for Justice and Security had insufficiently motivated the inadmissibility of the applications of four Syrian nationals, who had made an asylum application in the Netherlands while already enjoying refugee status in Bulgaria. 
The applicants were granted refugee status in Bulgaria in August 2017. Subsequently, they moved to Germany, where their asylum applications were declared inadmissible and they were transferred back to Bulgaria. In June 2020, they left to the Netherlands, where they unsuccessfully applied for a temporary asylum residence permit. The State Secretary declared their applications inadmissible because of their refugee status in Bulgaria.  

The State Secretary based his decision on references to previous case-law and the general legislative framework in Bulgaria. He underlined, inter alia, that the principle of mutual trust allowed him to consider that the situation for refugees in Bulgaria is poor, but a return to Bulgaria would not expose the applicants to a treatment violating Article 3 ECHR. Furthermore, he estimated that the applicants had made insufficient efforts to enforce their rights, such as regarding housing and education, and concluded that the legal situation in Bulgaria for refugees is comparable to the one of Bulgarian citizens.
The Court rejected this assessment, highlighting that the State Secretary must substantively address the arguments of the applicants, thereby carefully considering whether the principle of mutual trust can be invoked in individual cases. The Court extensively considered the situation for refugees in Bulgaria, taking into account, inter alia, the lack of access to housing and identity documents, and the lack of Bulgarian integration facilities. Indeed, with reference to Ibrahim and ET and NT, the Court orders the Dutch State Secretary to obtain more information and assess whether the applicants, in Bulgaria, would not risk to be exposed to a situation that violates Article 3 ECHR and Article 4 of the Charter. The lack of access to housing that may make the applicants entirely reliant on the Bulgarian authorities, who seem to be 'officially indifferent' to their needs, should be taken into account.
Therefore, the Court annuls the decisions and orders the State Secretary to collect information from the Bulgarian authorities and make a new assessment based on general information, the information provided by the applicants, the Bulgarian authorities, and the Court's decision. 
Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU Team

Published in ELENA Weekly Legal Update - 23 October 2020

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