Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

Portugal

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 26/05/22

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Within the context of the EU emergency relocation programme (2015-2018), it was observed that SEF generally granted subsidiary protection to Syrians and refugee status to Eritreans.

In the course of 2019, CPR observed that, SEF deemed a significant number of applications lodged by Venezuelans as unfounded within accelerated procedures (notably on grounds of irrelevance),[1] and referred the cases to regularisation procedures through the humanitarian clause of the exceptional regularisation regime of the Immigration Act.[2]

According to the decisions, such a referral was done due to the political, social, and humanitarian crisis in the country and its impacts in the regular functioning of institutions and public services. While further information on the conduct of such procedures was not available to CPR at the time of writing, this is an uncommon practice from the authorities that was only systematically applied to Venezuelans.[3] The practice was confirmed in the Statistical Report of Asylum (2020).[4] While official data in this regard is not available, according to CPR’s observation, this practice persisted in 2020 and 2021.

TCA South analysed one such decision in 2020. In the case concerned, the applicant referred to the overall conditions in Venezuela (insecurity, lack of living conditions, lack of access to essential goods) and, particularly, to the lack of access to necessary medication. The Court considered that the first instance decision was contradictory. It was also concluded, inter alia, that given the publicly available information regarding the situation in Venezuela, it is notorious that the socio-economic situation is harsh, with shortages of food and medicines, and growing violence. The Court concluded that, given the applicant’s statements and the available information, the allegations were pertinent and relevant, and the application should be analysed within the regular procedure. [5]

Furthermore, the practice seems to contradict the position assumed by Portugal externally regarding persons fleeing Venezuela, notably the pledges made in the 2019 Global Refugee Forum where Portugal committed “to ensure financial contributions for […] joint operations of the UNHCR/IOM operation in Colombia (to address the urgent needs of Venezuelan refugees) […]” and also referred to supporting the higher education of Venezuelan refugees.[6]

While statistical data is not available, CPR has observed that persons relocated to Portugal following rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea whose applications for international protection were rejected were also (at least at times) referred to regularisation procedures through the humanitarian clause of the exceptional regularisation regime of the Immigration Act.[7] This was, according with at least some decisions analysed, done on the basis of the commitment made by Portugal following the disembarkation.

In 2021, Portugal also participated in the evacuation of Afghan citizens. In August, the Government announced the country’s availability to host Afghans who have collaborated with Portuguese military forces deployed to Afghanistan, persons who have collaborated with EU, NATO and UN missions in the country.[8] Specific references to vulnerable cases (e.g. women and girls) were also made by Government officials.

A specific scheme has been adopted to ensure the reception of those evacuated to Portugal (see Differential treatment in reception). The asylum applications followed the regular procedure. According to the information available to CPR, admission to the regular procedure and issuance of the corresponding temporary residence permits were overall quick, and the analysis of the applications was ongoing at the time of writing.

A total of 768 applications for international protection have been made during the year within this context.

While official information on the selection criteria and procedures has not been shared by the authorities, according to the information available to CPR, those evacuated mostly fall in one of the following categories: persons who worked with the Portuguese Military Forces in Afghanistan, in the EU mission or with links to the UN; journalists, persons identified by the Directorate General for Consular Affairs and Communities (Direcção-Geral dos Assuntos Consulares e das Comunidades) and relatives of national citizens. A group of the Afghanistan Women’s Soccer Team,[9] and another of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music,[10] and respective family members have also been hosted in the country.

 

 

 

[1] Article 19(1)(e) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 123 Immigration Act.

[3] The decisions analysed do not clarify whether such procedures are triggered automatically by SEF and if residence permits on humanitarian grounds are effectively granted.

[4] Observatory for Migration, Entrada, Acolhimento e Integração de Requerentes e Beneficiários de Protecção Internacional em Portugal – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2020, May 2020, p.62, available in Portuguese at: https://bit.ly/2MGYtB9.   

[5] TCA South, Decision 1574/19.8BELSB, 17 March 2020, unpublished.

[6] Statement from Portugal at the Global Refugee Forum,17 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/38OHMdM

[7] Article 123 Immigration Act.

[8] See, for instance: Expresso, Afeganistão: Portugal participa na mobilização internacional de apoio a refugiados, 15 August 2021, available at_https://bit.ly/36EvmbY.

[9] Diário de Notícias, Portugal recebeu grupo de 80 afegãos, a maioria jogadoras de futebol, 20 September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3LbtYfS.

[10] Euronews, Jovens músicos afegãos encontram esperança em Portugal, 14 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3xMZKvQ.

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