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Dublin rules Federal court decision gives asylum seekers more legal rights

Administrative Court building

View of the Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen


The Swiss Federal Administrative Court has ruled that Switzerland cannot send an Iraqi family back to Germany, but must examine their asylum request itself.

In making the decisionexternal link published Friday, the Federal Administrative Court has aligned itself with recent decisions of the European Court of Justice. 

The court looked at whether asylum seekers have a general right to challenge the way the European Union’s so-called “Dublin IIIexternal link” rules are applied. The Dublin III Regulation lays down criteria and mechanisms for determining which Member State is responsible for processing the asylum request of a third-country national or stateless person. 

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but applies the Dublin rules. 

+ Read more on how Switzerland applies the Dublin accords 

The Iraqi family – a couple and their two children – had gone to the Federal Administrative Court to challenge a decision of the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), which dismissed their asylum request on the grounds that they had also previously filed an asylum request in Germany. But the family argued that it was Switzerland, not Germany that was responsible for examining their request, because the SEM did not apply the rules correctly (it missed a three-month deadline for submitting a “take charge” request to the German authorities). 

This decision strengthens the protection of asylum seekers by giving them a general right to challenge the way Dublin III is applied. 

The judges of the Swiss court noted that they are not obliged to conform with European Court of Justice decisions on Dublin III, but said signatories should make efforts to harmonise the way the rules are applied. 

Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Courtexternal link, based in the north-eastern canton of St Gallen, primarily handles complaints against decisions rendered by Swiss federal authorities.


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