European Court clears way for Germany to deport refugees to other EU countries

European Court clears way for Germany to deport refugees to other EU countries
The ECJ has made it easier for Germany to deport asylum claimants to other EU countries. Image: DPA
The deportation of refugees under EU law from northern European countries to their southern counterparts has come under criticism in recent years. The court ruled however that such deportations were justified under the 'mutual trust' principle.

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Germany can more easily deport asylum seekers to other European countries. The ruling considered the case of a man from The Gambia, who had initially applied in Italy but later lodged another application in Germany. 

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The man brought an action to challenge the deportation, saying that it would be inconsistent with EU law due to the poor conditions in Italy and the deficiencies in the Italian asylum procedure. The man had argued that a repatriation to Italy would lead to poverty, homelessness and “a life on the margins of society”. 

The court however found that deportation was justified under the principle of 'mutual trust' between European countries.

This means that no transfer can be prevented unless the applicant can prove that such a move would expose him or her to “extreme material poverty”, which is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights prohibition on “inhuman or degrading treatment”. 

Dublin rule is controversial 

Under the reformatted Dublin Regulation and the Common European Asylum System, EU countries can send refugees back to the first EU country they entered to have their asylum claims considered. 

The Dublin rule has faced criticism over time, primarily as it has left a handful of southern and eastern European countries with the responsibility for handling the vast majority of EU asylum claims. Concerns about human rights standards in these countries have also been raised. 

Previously, the European Court of Justice ruled that refugees in northern and western European countries cannot be sent back to the EU country they first entered, due primarily to human rights concerns.

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Norway and Finland stopped sending refugees back to Greece, while similar human rights concerns were raised about conditions in Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously suspended the Dublin Regulation for Syrian asylum seekers in 2015, allowing them to apply for protection from the German state once they reached German soil. 

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