Cessation and review of protection status

Bulgaria

Country Report: Cessation and review of protection status Last updated: 21/04/21

Author

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Visit Website

According to Article 17(1) LAR, international protection may be ceased if the protection holder:

  • Can no longer refuse to avail him or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin, as the circumstances that had given rise to fears of persecution have ceased to exist and the transformation in said circumstances is substantial enough and of a non-temporary nature;
  • Voluntarily avails him or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin;
  • Voluntarily re-acquires citizenship after having lost it, or acquires new citizenship in another country;
  • Acquires Bulgarian citizenship;
  • Voluntarily settles in the country where he or she was previously persecuted;
  • Has been granted refugee status by the President; or
  • Explicitly declares that he or she no longer wishes to enjoy the international protection granted in Bulgaria.
  • Has deceased.

Following the decision of the SAR’s Chairperson to initiate a cessation procedure, a caseworker may suggest to cease protection based on available data indicating that one of the above legal grounds applies. The beneficiary of protection is to be notified by a letter with recorded delivery that such a procedure has been initiated, the reasons thereof and the date and place for a mandatory interview in which he or she will have the opportunity to raise any objections against the cessation of the protection status. As of the date of notification, the SAR has 3 months to issue a decision. Such decision can also be taken in the absence of opinion or objections by the protection status holder if they have not been made on his own failure.  When the SAR has not established the grounds for cessation, the initiated procedure must be discontinued.

The cessation can be appealed within 14 days after being notified to the individual before the respective Regional Administrative Court. The appeal can be heard at two court instances where the decision of the second instance, the Supreme Administrative Court, is final. Legal aid can be appointed by the court on a request of the appellant (see section Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance).

Although there is no systematic review of protection status in practice, cessation procedures are initiated by the SAR when the MOI provides information indicating that status holders have either returned to their country of origin, obtained residence or citizenship in a third country, or have not renewed their Bulgarian identification documents for a period exceeding 3 years.

In 2020 an amendment to the law introduced an additional clause, which allows cessation or revocation of international protection where the status holders fails to renew his/her expired Bulgarian identity documents, or to replace them if they have been lost, stolen or destroyed, in a period of 30 days. [1]  Despite being contrary to 1951 Refugee Convention, the amendment aims to legalise a malpractice applied by the SAR since 2018.

This broadened interpretation of the recast Qualification Directive introduces de facto an additional cessation ground in violation of national and EU legislation. The undue cessation of international protection has affected 4,264 status holders in total, respectively – 770 persons in 2018; 2,608 persons in 2019; and 886 persons in 2020.[2]  In 2020, the cessation affected individuals from the following countries of origin: [3]

Cessation of refugee status: 2020

Country of origin

Number
Syria

31

Iraq

10
Afghanistan

5

Stateless

2
Turkey

2

Iran

1

Sudan

1

Cessation of subsidiary protection: 2020

Country of origin

Number
Iraq

392

Syria

252
Stateless

92

Afghanistan

40

Somalia

24

Sudan

9
Iran

9

Lebanon

4
Egypt

3

Cote D’Ivoire

3

Turkey

1

Bangladesh

1
Sri Lanka

1

Ethiopia

1
DR Congo

1

[1]  Article 42(5) LAR, enforced on 20 October 2020.

[2]  SAR, Exh. No. РД05-22/13.01.2021

[3]  Information provided by SAR, 15 January 2020.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation