A. (Congo) v Finnish Immigration Service
FI: The Supreme Administrative Court clarified the criteria for cessation of refugee status
A., a Congolese national, arrived in Finland with his family as a UNHCR emergency from Uganda in 2006 and was granted refugee status in Finland, based on his parents' supposed political opinion and ethnicity. The appellant is from the Eastern Congo region of Ituri. FIS proposed the cessation of A.’s refugee status and based its decision on assessement made of updated country of origin information to conclude that the applicant, although would not be able to return to his home territory in the Eastern Congo, would however be able to settle safely in the Kinshasa. By decision of on 14 June 2018, the Finnish Immigration Service (FIS) terminated A's refugee status and ordered his deportation back to his country of origin and issued a 5 years entry ban. Prior to the decision, an asylum interview was conducted on 23 November 2017 and the applicant stated to be afraid of war in his country of origin making him willing to return. The applicant has no ties with his country of origin since he left, but in Finland he has a family life with his child and his mother.
The applicant appealed the FIS decision and the Supreme Administrative Court admitted the appeal and referred the case to FIS for review in order for the applicant to be issued a residence permit as his refugee status could not be abolished for the reasons provided below.. The Supreme Administrative Court held that FIS wrongly assessed and based its decision on country of origin information since the security situation in Congo has not substantially improved and the change in circumstances cannot, at least, be considered essential and permanent.
The Supreme Administrative Court stated that for the termination of refugee status, FIS must to establish that the circumstances based on which A. was granted the status, ceased to exist and there is a significant and lasting change in circumstances. It was held that FIS decision has not provided any information on whether the ethnic reasons for granting A. refugee status had ceased and that the applicant’s age and good health were irrelevant in the assessment of the refugee status cessation. Moreover, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that there had been no significant and permanent change in the security situation in A.’s country of origin and that in order to cease the refugee status, the criteria which led to the granting of the status can no longer be considered valid. The Supreme Administrative Court underlined that the assessment on the cessation of refugee status does not included an assessment on whether, on grounds of changed country of origin information, an applicant has the possibility to settle safely in another area of his/her country of origin.
Assessment of Application; Cessation of protection; Country of Origin Information; Refugee Protection;
Supreme Administrative Court (KHO) Official Website
Finland, Supreme Administrative Court [Korkein hallinto-oikeus], A. (Congo) v Finnish Immigration Service, ECLI:FI:KHO:2020:130, 25 November 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.