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Country of Decision : Portugal
Court Name : PT: Supreme Administrative Court [Supremo Tribunal Administrativo]
Date of decision : 05/11/2020
Type : Judgment
Case Number/Citation/ Document Symbol : 02364/18.0BELSB

A. (Sierra Leone) v Director of the Foreigners and Borders Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs

Sierra Leone

PT: The Supreme Administrative Court rules on the assessment to be carried out when deciding on a Dublin transfer to a country that faces systemic flaws in its reception and asylum systems

The case concerned the rejection of the applicant's request for international protection as inadmissible and his transfer to Italy under Dublin III Regulation.

A., a national of Sierra Leone, applied for asylum in Italy and in Germany in 2017 prior to applying for international protection in Portugal. According to Dublin III Regulation, the Asylum Office sent a take back request to the Italian authorities. A. was interviewed after having been informed of the Dublin procedure and mentioned to have health problems and that he applied for asylum because of his sexual orientation, having left his home country due to being assaulted for being gay.

The inadmissibility decision and the Dublin transfer decision were notified to the applicant on 3 December 2018. On the same day, A. applied for legal aid in order to appeal the decision. The Lisbon Administrative Court noted that the determining authority did not interview the applicant before the transfer decision to Italy was taken and that no consideration was given to the systemic flaws in the Italian asylum and reception system, which in its view amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The Supreme Administrative Court confirmed the judgement under appeal that the transfer decision should be annulled but reasoned differently from the Lisbon Administrative Court. It noted that the appealed decision did not take into consideration the specific situation and personal circumstances of the applicants but referred to general statements on the systemic flaws in the asylum and reception system in Italy. According to the Supreme Administrative Court, the determining authority does not have to presume that if there are systemic flaws in another country's asylum and reception system, this amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment for all asylum applicants. The Supreme Court held that the assessment has to be done based on the personal circumstances of the applicant and that unless it can be deducted from the declarations of the applicant for international protection that there is, in fact, a concrete situation in which the applicant will have been affected in a way beyond what is acceptable due to the poor reception conditions, situation that cannot be ignored and must be properly clarified, the determining authority does not have to assume that the poor reception conditions in a given country are necessarily proof that all refugees are treated inhumanely and degrading in that same country.


Dublin procedure; Sexual Orientation; Torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ;

Dublin Regulation III (Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for IP); EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ; European Convention on Human Rights;

Acórdão Supremo Tribunal Administrativo

EASO Courts and Tribunals Network

Portugal, Supreme Administrative Court [Supremo Tribunal Administrativo], A. (Sierra Leone) v Director of the Foreigners and Borders Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs, 02364/18.0BELSB, 05 November 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.