Dublin

Croatia

Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 12/01/21

Author

Croatian Law Centre Visit Website

General 

 

Dublin statistics: 2019

Outgoing procedure

Incoming procedure

 

Requests

Transfers

 

Requests

Transfers

Total

:

8

Total

:

99

France

:

3

Germany

:

28

Italy

:

2

Austria

:

21

Denmark

:

1

Switzerland

:

13

Germany

:

1

France

:

11

Switzerland

:

1

Slovenia

:

6

:

:

:

Belgium

:

4

:

:

:

Sweden

:

3

:

:

:

United Kingdom

:

2

:

:

:

Denmark

:

1

:

:

:

Norway

:

1

:

:

:

Luxemburg

:

1

Source: Ministry of Interior, https://bit.ly/2RdMOco.

 

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.

As regards the peculiar situation of the organised transit of refugees and migrants along the Western Balkan route from the end of 2015 to early 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) clarified on 26 July 2017 that persons entering Croatia en route to other countries were effecting an “irregular entry” under the terms of the Dublin Regulation. Therefore Croatia remained responsible for processing the applications of those transiting through its territory during that period.[1]

No information is available in regard to outgoing and incoming requests in the course of 2019.

 

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. From 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.[2]

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.[3]

The applicant who without justified cause refuses to be fingerprinted shall have his or her fingerprints taken by police officers without his or her consent.[4] This can also be a reason for the Ministry of Interior to render a decision in an accelerated procedure (see section on Accelerated Procedure).[5]

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.[6] Information is available in Arabic, English, Farsi, French, Croatian, Somali, Turkish, and Urdu.[7] 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[8] 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”.

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 Ministry of Interior, the time between the day when another Member State accepts responsibility and the transfer being made is approximately 2 months.[9]

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.[10]

 

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.[11]

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,[12] 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.

 

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,[13] 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.[14] No information is available for 2019.

 

The situation of Dublin returnees

 

Applicants who are returned from other Member States in principle do not have 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.[15]

Transfers to Croatia have not been suspended by national courts on account of conditions facing returnees.[16] This has been echoed by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in early 2017.[17]

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.[18]

 


[1] CJEU, Case C-646/16 Jafari and Case C-490/16 A.S., Judgment of 26 July 2017.

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

[3] Article 33(6) LITP.

[4] Article 33(7) LITP.

[5] Article 41(1)(10) LITP.

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

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

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

[9] Ibid.

[10]  Ibid.

[11] Article 43(3) LITP.

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

[13] Article 60(2) LITP.

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

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

[16] 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.

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

[18] 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