Dublin

Croatia

Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 27/05/21

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Dublin statistics: 2020

 

The Ministry of Interior did not provide statistics on the number of incoming and outgoing requests. Nevertheless, statistics on Dublin transfers were published by the Ministry of Interior and indicate a total of 8 outgoing transfers and 40 incoming transfers in 2020:

Outgoing Dublin transfers from Croatia to EU/EEA Countries Incoming Dublin transfers to Croatia from EU/EEA countries
EU/EEA Countries Transfers EU/EEA countries Transfers
Belgium 3 Germany 22
Luxemburg 3 Switzerland 4
Switzerland 1 Austria 4
Spain 1 Belgium 3
Slovenia 2
Netherlands 2
France 2
Finland 1
Total 8 Total 40

 Source: Source: Ministry of Interior, Statistics, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2PaGNzq.

Outgoing Dublin transfers from Croatia by country of origin Incoming Dublin transfers to Croatia by country of origin
Country of origin Transfers Country of origin Transfers
Iran 6 Iraq 17
Pakistan 1 Algeria 6
Turkey 1 Syria 6
Libya 2
Iran 2
Afghanistan 2
Turkey 1
Unknown 1
Pakistan 1
Morocco 1
Egypt 1
Total 8 Total 40

Source: Ministry of Interior, Statistics, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2PaGNzq.;

Application of the Dublin criteria

Croatia does not use any national legislation to incorporate the Dublin III Regulation, as it is directly applicable, but refers to it in Articles 2 and 43 LITP, specifying that the application will be dismissed if the responsibility of another Member State has been established. In that respect, the LITP does not establish criteria to determine the state responsible, but the Ministry of Interior, when deciding on a case, simply refers to the criteria listed in the Dublin Regulation. The Dublin procedure is applied whenever the criteria listed in the Dublin Regulation are met.

No information is available in regard to the applicable Dublin criteria for the outgoing and incoming requests issued in 2020.

In June 2020, a meeting was held between representatives of the the Ministry of Interior and representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy to improve cooperation in the implementation of family reunification within the Dublin procedure.[1]  Following that, a standard operative procedure (SOP) has been drafted to contribute to the coordination in process of family reunification of unaccompanied minors.[2]

 

Procedure

Within the Department for international protection procedure, officials working within the Unit for Dublin Procedure conduct Eurodac and Dublin procedures.

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Interior in January 2019, there are eight stationery LiveScan machines for taking fingerprints for Eurodac purposes, two new and one old in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection in Zagreb (1 currently at Border Police Station in Cetingrad in Police administration Karlovačka), one in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection in Kutina, one old and one new in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo, one in the Transit Reception Centre in Trilj, and one in Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik. There are also 24 portable devices: two in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection in Zagreb (1 currently at the Police station Donji Lapac in Police administration ličko-senjska), one in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo, one in the Transit Reception Centre in in Tovarnik, while other devices are located in various police administrations and police stations on the Croatian territory. Since October 2017 fingerprinting is done through Eurodac LiveScan machines, which was the reason why portable devices were located in all police administration centres. Only when an applicant or irregular migrant cannot be brought to the police station or the device cannot be brought to the police station where the person is located are fingerprints taken on paper and then scanned to Eurodac LiveScan or are fingerprints taken by the officials in the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection once person arrives there.[3]

Where fingerprinting is temporarily impossible due to medical or other reasons, fingerprints of an applicant shall be taken as soon as those impediments cease to exist.[4]

The applicant who refuses to be fingerprinted without justified cause shall have his or her fingerprints taken by police officers without his or her consent.[5] This can also be a reason for the Ministry of Interior to render a decision in an accelerated procedure (see section on Accelerated Procedure).[6]

According to the Ministry of Interior, applicants are informed about Dublin and Eurodac when they express the intention to apply for international protection and during the interview for the purpose of lodging the application for international protection.[7] Information is available in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Croatian, Somali, Turkish, and Urdu.[8] The Ministry of Interior does not provide a written translation of the Dublin decision, but the decision is explained orally by the interpreter during its delivery in a language that the applicant for international protection understands.

According to the Ministry of Interior, there have been changes in the practice in relation to the CJEU ruling in Case C-670/16 Mengesteab. Authorities apply the Dublin procedure before application for international protection is lodged i.e. from the registration of the intention to apply for international protection[9] and the 3-month deadline for issuing a “take charge” request starts running from the moment they receive the notification of registration of intention to apply for international protection by the police station (see Registration), not from the moment the application is lodged. The deadline for a “take back” request is 2 months from the Eurodac “hit”.

In June 2020, the training of trainers for fingerprinting for EURODAC was carried out as part of the EMAS project called “Strengthening of border control activities at the Croatian part of the external border due to increased migratory pressure.[10]

Transfers

In practice, if another EU Member State accepts responsibility for the applicant, the time for the transfer to the responsible Member State will depend on the circumstances of each case. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Interior in 2018, the time between the day when another Member State accepts responsibility and the transfer being made is approximately 2 months.[11] More recent information is not available. Nevertheless, Dublin transfers were postponed due to COVID-19 in 2020.[12]

The transfer to the responsible Member State is organised by the Unit for Dublin procedure of the Ministry of Interior, in cooperation with the receiving Member State. According to the Ministry of Interior, the transfer is usually under escort of two police officers, or in cases of voluntary transfer of a minor it could be arranged that a staff member of the Dublin Unit escorts the minor.[13]

Personal interview

There is no special interview conducted in the Dublin procedure, since questions relevant to that procedure are part of the interview when expressing the intention to apply for international protection before the police, and also of the first interview that is conducted by the officials of the Reception Centre for Applicants for international protection upon the lodging of the application.

If there are elements in connection with the Dublin procedure which were not mentioned in the application, for instance there is a Eurodac hit and the applicant has not mentioned that he or she was in another Member State, an additional interview can be conducted.

The same procedural rules as for the regular procedure apply during this part of the procedure, and the same guarantees as for the first interview in the regular procedure will apply (see section on Regular Procedure: Personal Interview).

 

Appeal           

 

The decision on the transfer includes the grounds for the application of the Dublin Regulation and information on how to lodge a complaint against the decision. The complaint, for which applicants receive free legal assistance, must be lodged before the Administrative Court within 8 days from the delivery of the decision.[14]

The courts and their judges are not specialised in asylum cases. The court examines the lawfulness of the Dublin decision. A personal hearing can be omitted on the decision of the judge: therefore in some cases the oral procedure is conducted in absentia (with only the legal representative present). In Dublin cases, it happens when the complainant disputes only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, and the parties have not made a request for a hearing to be held. However according to the knowledge of the Croatian Law Centre, in practice hearings are held in Dublin cases as well.

Complaints have suspensive effect. According to the information available to the Croatian Law Centre, in the past the courts did not always take into account the level of reception conditions,[15] the procedural guarantees and the recognition rates in the responsible Member State when reviewing the Dublin decision. There is no publicly available data on how many Dublin decisions on transfers to other Member States were actually challenged before the Administrative Court since Croatia became an EU Member State. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn on whether the Administrative Court takes into account the conditions and guarantees in the responsible Member state when reviewing the Dublin decision.

The Administrative Court in Zagreb reported that it did not  judicate in  Dublin cases in 2020. [16] However in the course of 2020, the High Administrative Court has ruled in 2 Dublin cases, but there is no further information available[17]

 

Legal assistance

The same rules as in the regular procedure apply for access to free legal assistance during the Dublin procedure, meaning that free legal aid includes assistance in the preparation of the complaint and representation before the Administrative Court,[19] if requested by the applicant.

 

Suspension of transfers

After entering the EU, Croatia suspended transfers of applicants for international protection to Greece. Where there was no responsible Member State other than Greece, in previous years Croatia took responsibility for the examination of the asylum application. However from the data provided by the Ministry of Interior, this has changed in 2017. The Ministry of Interior reported that according to the Commission Recommendation of 8 December 2016 the Dublin Unit has begun sending requests to Greece in cases where, under the conditions of the Dublin Regulation, it was found out that Greece is responsible for examining an application for international protection. According to their information until August 2018, all received answers were negative and no transfer has been carried out since 15 March 2017.[20] No information is available for 2019 and 2020.

According to the Ombudsperson report on 2020, Croatia postponed the transfers of applicants to the state responsible due to the COVID-19 situation.[21]

The situation of Dublin returnees

Applicants who are returned from other Member States in principle do not face any obstacles to access the procedure for granting international protection in Croatia. However, those who had left Croatia before the end of procedure and therefore had their case suspended, have to re-apply for international procedure (if they wish) once they return to Croatia, and thereby re-enter their initial procedure, in line with Article 18(2) of the Dublin III Regulation. On the other hand, persons whose application was explicitly withdrawn or rejected before leaving Croatia are considered subsequent applicants upon return, contrary to the requirements of the Regulation.[22] According to the knowledge of the Croatian Law Centre, Dublin returnees do not face difficulties in accessing the reception system and material reception conditions.

Transfers to Croatia have not been suspended by national courts on account of conditions facing returnees.[23] This has been echoed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in early 2017.[24]

Nevertheless, at the end of 2019, the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland suspended a transfer to Croatia of a Syrian national who travelled via the Balkan route to Italy and from there to Switzerland, where he applied for asylum. According to the EURODAC database, the complainant had been registered in Croatia, but had not submitted an asylum application there. The Federal Administrative Court annulled the decision and referred the matter back to the lower instance for re-evaluation. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) had to carry out an individualised examination to determine whether there are substantial grounds for believing that the asylum procedure of the Member State where the applicant shall be transferred to has systemic weaknesses that would entail a risk of inhuman treatment or chain deportation.[25]

In a report published in February 2019, Médecins du Monde highlighted that mental health support is especially lacking for applicants returned to Croatia under the Dublin Regulation, who are reportedly facing a lower quality of life than other asylum applicants.[26]

 

[1] At the time of the meeting the name of the Ministry was still the Ministry for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy

[2]  EMN, Bulletin number 31, August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dy8fR4.

[3]  Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[4]  Article 33(6) LITP.

[5]  Article 33(7) LITP.

[6] Article 41(1)(10) LITP.

[7] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[8] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.

[9] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 10 August 2018.

[10] EMN, Migration Bulletin – Number 31, August 2020 available at: https://bit.ly/3szPDo3.

[11] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 10 August 2018..

[12] EMN, Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area, January – March 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3sypjKV; Ombudsman, Annual report 2020, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/3aaQXar.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Article 43(3) LITP.

[15] Information provided by the attorney at law, 21 January 2020.

[16] Information provided by the Administrative Court in Zagreb, 18 February 2021.

[17] Information provided by the High Administrative Court, 15 January 2021.

[18] State funded free legal aid for applicants for international protection before the Ministry of Interior ended on 31 March 2020.

[19] Article 60(2) LITP.

[20] Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 10 August 2018.

[21] Ombudsman, Annual report 2020, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/3aaQXar.

[22] ECRE, Balkan route reversed, December 2016, 30.

[23] Austrian Federal Administrative Court, Judgment W212 2120738-1, 11 February 2016; W125 2122299-1, 17 March 2016; W175 2124050-1, 8 April 2016; W144 2135976-7, 10 October 2016; W243 2134119-1, 24 November 2016; Austrian Administrative High Court, Judgment Ra 2016/20/0069, 23 June 2016; Administrative Court of Munich, Judgment M 18 S 16.50812, 31 October 2016; Swiss Federal Administrative Court, Judgment D-1611/2016, 22 March 2016; D-1951/2016, 1 April 2016; E-2615/2016, 4 May 2016; D-3867/2016, 29 June 2016; D-7156/2016, 23 November 2016; District Court of The Hague, Judgment NL16.1383, 5 July 2016.

[24]  CJEU, Case C-578/16 PPU C.K. . Republic of Slovenia, Judgment of 16 February 2017, para 71.

[25]Swiss Federal Administrative Court (BVG), BVGE 3078/2019, 12 June 2019, available on EDAL at: https://bit.ly/3tMHmi1.

[26] MdM, Nearing a point of no return? Mental health of asylum seekers in Croatia, February 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2UC9sLf.

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 I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation