M.M. v Czech Ministry of the Interior (Ministerstvo vnitra)
CZ: The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on withdrawal of refugee status due to conviction for a particularly serious crime (burglary and extortion).
According to the summary provided by the EASO Courts and Tribunals Network:
The Ministry of the Interior decided to withdraw asylum granted to a Chechen national (hereinafter only “the applicant”) as he was regarded as a danger to the security of the state because he was reconvicted of a particularly serious crime (burglary and extortion).
The applicant challenged the decision of the Ministry before the Municipal Court in Prague, arguing, inter alia, that: (1) Art. 14(4) of the Qualification Directive 2011/95/EU is contrary to Art. 42 of the 1951 Refugee Convention; (2) Art. 14(6) of the Qualification Directive was not transposed into national law; (3) he did not commit a particularly serious crime within the meaning of national criminal law and that (4) the Ministry did not interpret the meaning of “danger for the security of the state” correctly. The Municipal Court in Prague dismissed the action of the applicant.
Upon the applicant’s cassation complaint, the Supreme Administrative Court quashed the judgment of the Municipal Court as well as the administrative decision and remanded the case back to the Ministry of the Interior.
Concerning the compliance of Art. 14(4) and (6) of the Qualification Directive with Article 18 of the Charter of fundamental rights of the EU and Article 78 TFEU, the Supreme Administrative Court requested the preliminary ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter “CJEU”). The CJEU ruled (joint cases C‑391/16, C‑77/17 and C‑78/17) that Art. 14 (4) to (6) of the Qualification Directive are not contrary to the 1951 Refugee Convention, because they observe the minimum level of protection guaranteed by the convention. The Member States cannot derogate from the obligation of non-refoulement, as provided for in Articles 4 and 19 (2) of the Charter. It is true that under Article 14 (4) to (6) of Qualification Directive such persons may by subject to a decision on withdrawal of their refugee status within the meaning of Art. 2(e) of the Qualification Directive, but they do not cease to be refugees within the meaning of Art. 2(d) of the Qualification Directive and Art. 1(A) of the 1951 Refugee Convention if they still fulfil the substantive conditions for being considered refugees, and, therefore, are not excluded from the international protection guaranteed in Art. 18 of the Charter and the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Concerning the transposition of Art. 14(6) of the Qualification Directive into national law, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that despite the absence of explicit transposition of this provision, Czech national law contains relevant provisions that apply to individuals regardless of the legality of their residence, thus to refugees under Art. 14(4) of the Qualification Directive as well. It is necessary to note that the analysis concerning these rights carried out by the Supreme Administrative Court was related mainly to the specific case of the applicant. Therefore, in other cases the transposition of Art. 14(6) of the Qualification Directive might prove to be insufficient for other persons falling within the scope of Art. 14(4).
Concerning the crime committed by the applicant, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the condition of committing a particularly serious crime, according to Art. 14(4)(b) of the Qualification Directive, shall not be evaluated with a sole reference to categorization in national criminal law. Although the qualification of a crime by national criminal law may be one of the criteria which may be taken into account by the administrative authority, it cannot be the only criteria for deciding on withdrawal of refugee status/asylum according to the Qualification Directive. Other criteria, according to CJEU’s judgment in Ahmed, may include e.g. the nature of the act at issue, the consequences of that act, the form of procedure used to prosecute the crime, the nature of the penalty provided and the taking into account of whether most jurisdictions also classify the act at issue as a serious crime.
The problem of interpretation of “danger for the security of the state” occurred in relation to the provision of Czech national law according to which asylum shall be withdrawn if the recognized refugee has been “lawfully convicted of a particularly serious crime and therefore poses a danger for the security of the state”. The provision is not a verbatim transposition of Art. 14(4)(b) of the Qualification Directive, however, according to the Supreme Administrative Court the transposition of Art. 14(4) is facultative. Therefore, it is left to the discretion of the Member States whether they determine the conditions for revocation of refugee status more restrictively. In the context of the national provision cited above, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that it adds the additional component of “danger for the national security” to the condition of “conviction of particularly serious crime” and that administrative authorities are obliged to examine among other things if the “danger” is actual and present.
Renewal/Withdrawal/Revocation of Protection;
EASO Courts and Tribunals Network
Czech Republic, Supreme Administrative Court [Nejvyšší správní soud], M.M. v Czech Ministry of the Interior (Ministerstvo vnitra), 5 Azs 189/2015-127, 23 April 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.