Accelerated procedure

Portugal

Country Report: Accelerated procedure Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Portuguese Refugee Council Visit Website

General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedure, time limits)

The law contains a list of grounds that, upon verification, determine that an application is subjected to an accelerated procedure and deemed unfounded. The accelerated procedure implies that the time limits for the adoption of a decision on the merits at first instance are significantly shorter than those of the regular procedure.

The grounds laid down in Article 19(1) of the Asylum Act for applying an accelerated procedure include:

  1. Misleading the authorities by presenting false information or documents or by withholding relevant information or documents with respect to identity and/or nationality that could have had a negative impact on the decision;[1]
  2. In bad faith, destroying or disposing of an identity or travel document that would have helped establish identity or nationality;[2]
  3. Making clearly inconsistent and contradictory, clearly false or obviously improbable statements which contradict sufficiently verified COI, thus making the claim clearly unconvincing in relation to qualification for international protection;[3]
  4. Entering the territory of the country unlawfully or prolonging the stay unlawfully and, without good reason, failing to make an application for international protection as soon as possible;[4]
  5. In submitting the application and presenting the facts, only raising issues that are either not relevant or of minimal relevance to the examination of whether the applicant qualifies for international protection;[5]
  6. Coming from a Safe Country of Origin;[6]
  7. Introducing an admissible subsequent application;[7]
  8. Making an application merely in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of an earlier or imminent decision which would result in removal;[8]
  9. Representing a danger to the national security or public order;[9] and
  10. Refusing to comply with an obligation to have fingerprints taken.[10]

The wording of the law does not seem to be fully in line with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and with the applicable international standards as its literal application may lead not only to the accelerated processing but also to the automatic rejection of applications based on grounds such as the delay in making the application.

A first instance decision on the territory must be taken within 30 days for all grounds, except for cases concerning an application following a removal order which must be decided within 10 days.[11] In contrast to the regular procedure,[12] the National Director of SEF is the responsible authority for issuing a first instance decision on the merits of the application in the accelerated procedure,[13] while non-compliance with the applicable time limits grants the applicant automatic access to the regular procedure.[14]

While SEF generally admits asylum seekers to the regular procedure in case of non-compliance with applicable time limits, the automatic admission and issuance of a provisional residence permit has at times required a proactive intervention of the asylum seeker or of his or her legal counsel. Unlike in previous years, throughout 2018, CPR witnessed an increase of such decisions. While quantitative data is not available, according to CPR’s observation, this trend reversed in the second semester of 2019.[15]

In the context of the provision of legal assistance to asylum seekers, CPR has at times observed significant delays in the execution of judicial decisions by SEF. According to CPR’s observation, this mostly concerned the execution of judicial decisions that annulled first instance decisions rejecting applications in accelerated procedures and consequently condemned the Administration to channelling them into the regular procedure.

In practice all applications are channelled through the accelerated procedure where the specific grounds provided in the law apply.[16] In 2019, the statistics collected from the SEF indicated a total of 572 asylum applications processed under an accelerated procedure. The statistics provided by SEF indicate that the same number of decisions was taken under the accelerated procedure but a breakdown by outcome was not provided.

According to the information available to CPR, at least 577 applications filled in 2019 were rejected under the accelerated procedure, of which 330 on the territory and 247 at the border.[17] In CPR’s experience, most of rejections in accelerated procedures continued to be based on inconsistency or irrelevance.

A concerning practice observed in 2019 relates to the adoption of some decisions excluding an applicant from international protection within accelerated procedures, including at the border.[18]  The short time limits for analysis and reduced procedural guarantees applicable in accelerated procedures are likely to exacerbate the risks inherent to the application of exclusion clauses.

 

Personal interview

 

With regard to the personal interview for asylum seekers during the accelerated procedure, the general rules and practice of the regular procedure apply (see section on Regular Procedure: Personal Interview).

However, the law foresees reduced guarantees in the accelerated procedure, namely by excluding asylum seekers’ right to seek revision of the statements made during the personal interview in cases concerning applications following a removal order,[19] or the right to be notified of and to respond to SEF’s reasoning of the proposal for a final decision.[20]

The right of the applicant to submit comments to the written report the interview within 5 days is fully applicable in accelerated procedures.[21] However, according to information available to CPR, in some instances in 2019, negative in-merit decisions in accelerated procedures were issued prior to the end of such deadline.

 

Appeal

 

The Asylum Act provides for judicial review of facts and points of law by the Administrative Court against a rejection decision in an accelerated procedure.[22]

The time limit for lodging the appeal on the territory varies according to the specific ground of the accelerated procedure: it ranges from 4 days for applications following a removal order,[23] to 8 days for the remaining grounds.[24] Similarly to the regular procedure, the appeal has an automatic suspensive effect.[25] However, the onward appeal in the case of an application following a removal order does not.[26] The law also provides for a simplified judicial process with reduced formalities and time limits with the objective of shortening the duration of the judicial review.[27]

The information provided by CSTAF in 2019 regarding the number and nationalities of appellants, as well as the average duration and results of judicial reviews does not make a distinction between the type of asylum procedures (see Statistics). However, according to the information available to CPR the main type of asylum procedures used in 2019 to reject asylum applications consisted of accelerated procedures in the case of Angola (172 out of a total of 173 rejections) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (61 out of a total 61 rejections).[28]

The information provided by CSTAF indicates, in general, a poor success rate at appeals stage. In this regard, it must be acknowledged that the quality of many appeals submitted is often poor, given that very few lawyers have any specific training or relevant expertise in the field.

The issues raised as regards the poor quality of legal assistance and language barriers during the regular procedure also apply to the accelerated procedure and have thus an impact on the quality and effectiveness of appeals. CPR is not aware of additional obstacles faced by asylum seekers to appealing a first instance decision in the accelerated procedure, however.

 

Legal assistance

 

With regard to access to free legal assistance in the accelerated procedure, the general rules and practice of the regular procedure apply (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance).

 


[1] Article 19(1)(a) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 19(1)(b) Asylum Act.

[3] Article 19(1)(c) Asylum Act.

[4]Article 19(1)(d) Asylum Act.

[5] Article 19(1)(e) Asylum Act.

[6] Article 19(1)(f) Asylum Act.

[7] Article 19(1)(g) Asylum Act. In the case of subsequent applications admitted to the procedure under Article 19(1)(g) Asylum Act, there seems to be incoherence in the law as Article 33(5) provides for the application of the regular procedure where, following a preliminary assessment within 10 days, the application is deemed admissible because it includes new elements or findings pertaining to the conditions for qualifying as a beneficiary of international protection.

[8] Article 19(1)(h) Asylum Act.

[9] Article 19(1)(i) Asylum Act.

[10] Article 19(1)(j) Asylum Act.

[11] Articles 20(1) and 33-A(5) Asylum Act.

[12] Article 29(5) Asylum Act.

[13] Articles 20(1) and 24(4) Asylum Act.

[14] Articles 20(2) and 26(4) Asylum Act.

[15] According to information provided by SEF, a total of 542 decisions deeming an application admissible to the regular procedure (therefore excluding the application of inadmissibility or accelerated procedures) were issued in 2019.

[16] There is a distinction to be made between border procedures from which certain categories of vulnerable asylum seekers may be exempted and accelerated procedures. While the vulnerable asylum seeker may be exempted from the bordure procedure and be released from detention, he or she will remain liable to an accelerated procedure in national territory.

[17]  As these figures refer to applications filled in 2019, the numbers may include decisions issued in early 2020.

[18] Exclusion from international protection is regulated in article 9 of the Asylum Act.

[19] Article 33-A(4) and (5) Asylum Act.

[20] Article 29(2) Asylum Act.

[21] Article 17(1) and (2) Asylum Act.

[22] Articles 22(1), 33-A(6) and 25(1) Asylum Act and Article 95(3) Administrative Court Procedure Code.

[23] Article 33-A(6) Asylum Act.

[24] Articles 22(1) Asylum Act.

[25] Articles 22(1) and 33-A(6) Asylum Act.

[26]Article 33-A(8) Asylum Act.

[27] Article 22(2) and 33-A(7) Asylum Act.

[28] Two of the most representative nationalities at appeal stage.

 

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