Dublin

Cyprus

Country Report: Dublin Last updated: 08/04/22

Author

Cyprus Refugee Council Visit Website

General

Dublin statistics: 2021 

Outgoing procedure Incoming procedure
Requests Transfers Requests Transfers
Total 181 27 Total 278 1
Take charge 142 19 Take charge 49 1
Germany  31 1 Austria 10 0
France  24 0 Germany  10 0
Finland 14 5 France  6 0
Italy 13 10 Slovenia  6 0
Belgium 10 3 Netherlands 6 1
Take back 27 0 Take back 158 0
Germany  9 0 France 46 0
Austria  4 0 Germany 38 0
Switzerland  3 0 Austria 26 0
Greece 2 0 Netherlands 17 0
Italy  1 0 Greece  8 0

Source: Asylum Service.

Outgoing Dublin requests by criterion: 2021
Dublin III Regulation criterion Requests sent Requests accepted
Take charge”: Articles 8-15: 110 21
 Article 8 (minors) 86 15
 Article 9 (family members granted protection) 16 3
 Article 10 (family members pending determination) 0 0
Article 11 (family procedure) 4 1
 Article 12 (visas and residence permits) 3 2
 Article 13 (entry and/or remain) 1 0
Article 14 (visa free entry) 0 0
“Take charge”: Article 16 1 0
“Take charge” humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 31 11
“Take back”: Article 18 27 0
 Article 18 (1) (b) 27 0
 Article 18 (1) (c) 0 0
 Article 18 (1) (d) 0 0
 Article 20(5) 0 0

Source: Asylum Service.

Incoming Dublin requests by criterion: 2021
Dublin III Regulation criterion Requests received Requests accepted
“Take charge”: Articles 8-15 48 26
 Article 8 (minors) 5 0
 Article 9 (family members granted protection) 2 0
 Article 10 (family members pending determination) 0 0
Article 11 (family procedure) 4 0
 Article 12 (visas and residence permits) 32 22
 Article 13 (entry and/or remain) 4 4
Article 14 (visa free entry) 0 0
“Take charge”: Article 16 0 0
“Take charge” humanitarian clause: Article 17(2) 2 0
Take back”: Articles 18 and 20(5) 160 57
 Article 18 (1) (b) 149 55
 Article 18 (1) (c) 0 0
 Article 18 (1) (d) 9 2
 Article 20(5) 1 0

Source: Asylum Service.

Application of the Dublin criteria

The applicant is interviewed by Dublin Unit officers of the Asylum Service and all documents and information are collected in collaboration with him or her. For unaccompanied minors, both the interview and family tracing are done in the presence and with the collaboration of the Social Welfare Service’s officers. Following this, the request is submitted via ‘DubliNet’ to the relevant Member State.

In practice, the evidential requirements that are needed to prove family links are mostly documents that prove familial relationship with the individual in question and are requested from the asylum seeker, such as identity documents, family registration documents, birth/marriage certificates, photographs, any documents available and, when necessary, DNA tests. The authorities conducting the Dublin procedure will apply the family provisions even if the asylum seeker has not indicated the existence of family members in another Member State from the outset.[1]

The criteria most frequently used in practice for incoming requests are previous applications for international protection and for outgoing requests, and family unity for unaccompanied children.

The dependent persons and discretionary clauses

The humanitarian clause may be applied when the other criteria are not applicable and humanitarian reasons arise, whereas the sovereignty clause may be applied when the transfer is not going to be implemented within the time limits for reasons not foreseen in the Regulation i.e., health issues.[2] In 2020, 18 take charge requests were made under the humanitarian clause of which 3 were accepted. In 2021, 31 take charge requests were made under the humanitarian clause of which 11 were accepted.

Procedure

All asylum seekers applying for asylum aged 14 and over as well as their dependants, also aged 14 and over, are systematically fingerprinted and checked in Eurodac.[3] There is no specific policy in place for cases where applicants refuse to be fingerprinted, nor have there been cases to indicate such practice.

The Dublin procedure is systematically applied in all cases;[4] when lodging an application for asylum, the applicant also fills in a Dublin questionnaire where he or she has to state any previous travel or any relatives present in another Member State. Should he or she have travelled through another Member State or have relatives present in one Member State, the Dublin Unit invites the applicant for an interview.

In 2018, the Asylum Service faced difficulties in issuing “take charge” requests for family reunification within the three-month deadline. In 2019 and 2020, improvements were noted in issuing requests within the deadline and in 2021 there were no delays and the procedures were carried out timely.[5]

Individualised guarantees

The Dublin Unit seeks individualised guarantees that the asylum seeker will have adequate reception conditions and access to the asylum procedure upon transfer to countries facing difficulties in their asylum systems.[6] Such guarantees are sought after the responsible Member State has agreed to take charge of/take back the applicant.

Transfers

When another EU Member State accepts responsibility for the asylum applicant, it takes on average three-six months (based on estimations from practical experience) before the applicant is transferred to the responsible Member State. Asylum seekers are not detained for the purpose of transfer, whereas the actual transfer takes place under supervision or when necessary under escort.

During 2020, and despite the measures implemented during COVID-19, transfers were not suspended and had to be carried out within the designated deadline. In the event that the transfer was not executed within the deadline, the responsibility would shift back to Cyprus, however no such cases were reported.[7]

In 2019, Cyprus carried out  8 outgoing transfers; in 2020, 47 outgoing transfers were carried out and 27 in 2021.

Personal interview

The interview for the Dublin procedure is carried out by the Dublin Unit of the Asylum Service. These interviews are conducted in the same manner as the regular procedure, meaning that an interpreter is always available when needed and applicants can choose the gender of the interpreter[8] and/or interviewer.[9] In 2020, due to COVID-19 and the measures that were in place at different times throughout the year, some interviews for UASC were conducted at the Asylum service in a one-to-one meeting, some were conducted using teleconferencing and in some cases, the questions were sent to the Guardian for the child to answer and then sent back to the Dublin Unit. For the cases in which teleconferencing was used for UASC interviews, the child  would sit together with their guardian in the space of the shelter where the child resides, while the interviewer and interpreter were at the offices of the Asylum Service or the child was at the designated space in the shelter and the guardian, Asylum Service Officer and Interpreter were connected online thought teleconferencing. In such cases, the minutes of the interview were recorded in writing, sent via e-mail to the guardian who would then print, sign, have the child sign and scan, and return the scanned copy to the Asylum Service via e-mail.

The interview for the Dublin procedure focuses on determining the Member State responsible for examining the application for international protection. For possible “take back” cases, questions focus on the applicants’ entry into other Member States prior to reaching Cyprus, whether they have applied for asylum in said countries as well as the reasons for applying, the duration of stay along with specific dates of entry, and the reason for leaving the country. For family unity reasons, questions focus on whether the individual has family members in other Member States, as well the relationship with the individual in question, their relatives’ status in the country, and whether they can obtain any documents proving the familial relationship. Applicants are also informed about the Dublin procedure, what it entails, and the possibilities and effect on the case.[10]

Appeal

The law permits for an appeal against Dublin decisions before the IPAC during which the applicant has a right to remain.[11]The rules and procedure are the same as in in the regular procedure (see Regular Procedure).

The majority of cases in Cyprus that may be transferred to other Member States are not challenged by asylum seekers, as the great majority of the cases are related to family unity reasons and their preference is to not remain in Cyprus.

 Legal assistance

There is no access to free legal assistance from the state before the Asylum Service during the Dublin procedure. Such cases can be assisted by the free legal assistance provided for by NGOs under project funding, but their capacity is extremely limited. Legal aid is offered by the state only for the judicial examination of the Dublin decision before the IPAC.[12] The application for legal aid is subject to a “means and merits” test and is extremely difficult to be awarded (see Regular Procedure). However, asylum seekers, as stated above, extremely rarely submit appeals against the Dublin transfer; as such, no free legal assistance request has ever been submitted during the appeal procedure.

Suspension of transfers

The majority of cases that fall under the Dublin procedure in Cyprus are outgoing requests from UASC and adult asylum seekers requesting to join family members in other Member States, or incoming requests from other Member states requesting for Cyprus to take responsibility (“take back” requests). In case a transfer is not possible within the time limits foreseen by the Dublin Regulation, Cyprus will assume responsibility for examining the asylum application and asylum seekers will have full access to reception conditions and all other rights enjoyed by asylum seekers.

There are no national court rulings on Dublin transfers.

The situation of Dublin returnees

Asylum seekers transferred back from another Member State whose final decision is pending are not detained. In the event that they have no place to stay on their own, they may be transferred to Kofinou Reception Centre, which is an open centre for asylum seekers, depending on availability at the Centre.[13] If there is no availability at the Centre and in view of the lack of other accommodation options for asylum seekers, there is a possibility that persons may become homeless or be hosted by other asylum seekers in below standard accommodation.In cases of vulnerable persons they may be provided with accommodation by the social welfare services but this is not always ensured and duration of stay is temporary usually at 3 months, after which the asylum seeker is expected to have identified accommodation without assistance.

In February and December 2021, two Dutch Courts permitted asylum applicants whose first asylum country was Cyprus to be included in the Dutch asylum procedure, as they would not benefit from adequate reception conditions in the country, and that the alternative of returning to Cyprus entailed the risk of being subjected to degrading or inhumane treatment due to bad reception conditions. Both decisions also referred to Pournara and the low standard of conditions.[14]

For asylum seekers transferred back from another Member State, if a final decision was not issued prior to them leaving Cyprus, the asylum procedure resumes from where it left off. However, if a final decision was issued, deportation procedures are initiated.

No information is available as to whether requests sent to the Dublin Unit ask for the provision of individual guarantees for incoming transfers.

One person was returned to Cyprus in 2021, 2 in 2020 and 1 in 2019, compared to six persons in 2018, five persons in 2017 and four in 2016.

[1] Information provided by the Dublin Unit, October 2015. This practice remains valid as of 2017. Confirmed by cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Article 11A Refugee Law.

[4] Article 11B Refugee Law.

[5] Information provided by cases represented by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[6] Information provided by the Dublin Unit, July 2017.

[7] Information provided by the Asylum Service.

[8] Article 13A(9)(c).

[9] Article 13A(9)(b).

[10] Information provided by testimonies of individuals who have undergone a Dublin interview.

[11] Articles 12A(η) IPAC Law.

[12] Article 68(8) Legal Aid Law.

[13] Information provided by the Cyprus Refugee Council.

[14] Court of The Hague, case NL21.2036, available at: https://bit.ly/3IU5xCG; Court of Rb Amsterdam, NL21.17448 en NL.1745, available at: https://bit.ly/3KtS3Op.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview 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