Regular procedure

Romania

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

Author

JRS Romania Visit Website

 

 

General (scope, time limits)

 

The law foresees a 30-day deadline to issue a decision, starting from the moment when the file is handed over to the case officer.[1]

 

The time frame of 30 days provided in Article 52(1) of the Asylum Act shall be suspended during: (a) the Dublin procedure for determining the Member State responsible for examining the asylum application: (b) the First Country of Asylum procedure; (c) the Safe Third Country procedure; or, where appropriate, (d) the European safe third country procedure. When the reason for suspension no longer exists, the assessment period cannot be less than 20 days.[2]

 

The 30-day time limit shall be extended successively with further periods of no more than 30 days, and not exceeding 6 months from the lodging of the asylum application in total[3]: if the assessment of the case requires additional documentation, which makes impossible to carry out the activities necessary to decide on the asylum application or could lead to the non-observance of the guarantees recognised by the law due to causes not imputable to the applicant.

 

However, if the maximum time frame of 6 months is exceeded, the applicant should be informed of the delay and shall receive, upon request, information on the reasons of the delay and the time limit for the decision to be taken on his or her application.[4]

 

The term of 6 months may be extended successively for new cumulative periods, not exceeding 9 months, when:[5]

(a)   The asylum procedure involves complex elements of fact and/or law;

(b)  A large number of applications for international protection are lodged, making in practice very difficult to assess the claims within 6 months.

 

Exceptionally, in duly justified cases, a further extension may be applied for a maximum of 3 months.[6]

 

In practice, in the Regional Centres for Procedures and Accommodation for Asylum Seekers at Rădăuţi, Galaţi, Timișoara, Şomcuta Mare (Maramureș) and Giurgiu, the 30-day term is respected. In exceptional cases, the 30-day deadline to issue a decision was extended. In 2 cases in Galaţi, two brothers seeking asylum had their interviews on 30 of August 2019 and the decision was communicated on the 11 of October 2019. The legal counsellor was not aware of the reason for this extension; neither the asylum seekers were informed of the delay and its reasons.

 

In Rădăuţi, the JRS representative reported that there were no cases in which the deadline was extended, but it was reported that in one case the asylum seeker was issued the decision within 2 days from the day of the interview, even though at the interview the case officer told him that he may bring evidence within 3 days from the date of the personal interview. This issue was also argued at the Regional Court of Rădăuţi.[7] However, according to another stakeholder interviewed, there were cases in which the deadline was extended.

 

In Bucharest, according to the JRS representative, in general the first instance decision is communicated within 2-3 weeks, especially when a form of protection is granted. Nevertheless, there were cases in which the 30-day deadline to issue a decision was extended for 10-20 days, in order to assess the country of origin information or the credibility of the asylum seeker.

 

According to IGI-DAI statistics, in 2019 the average duration of the asylum procedure was 60 days in case of regular procedure and 9 days in case of accelerated procedure[8], compared to 50 days in 2018.[9] In case of Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan nationalities, the average procedure was 60 days.[10]

 

In practice, the average length of the asylum procedure from the moment of lodging the application until the first instance decision is taken, differs from one centre to another as follows:

 

Average duration of the asylum procedure by Regional Centre: 2019

Regional Centre for Procedures and Accommodation for Asylum Seekers

Average duration in days

Timișoara

45

Şomcuta Mare

30

Rădăuţi

30

Galaţi

45-60

Bucharest

60-90

Giurgiu

30-40

 

Timișoara: According to the Director of IGI-DAI in Timișoara, the average duration of the asylum procedure is 45 days. This was also echoed by one of the attorneys interviewed. According to the JRS representative the length of the asylum procedure varies from case to case and there were cases in which the procedure lasted 90 days. According to another attorney, in the cases where he was appointed, the average duration was 47 days.

 

Bucharest: According to the JRS representative, in general, the interviews are postponed due to the lack of interpreters, especially in case of asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, it was noted that this may also occur in case of Arabic speaking asylum seekers, where an interpreter is more accessible.

 

Rădăuţi: There were cases in which the asylum procedure lasted 2-3 months, because there was no interpreter available.[11]

 

According to CNRR, the average length of the asylum procedure is 30 working days from the time the application is handed over to the case officer until the decision is communicated. There are exceptions: in case of absence of the interpreter or where there is a need for an additional interview.[12]

 

Prioritised examination and fast-track processing

 

According to the law, priority is given to asylum applications lodged by unaccompanied children.[13] IGI takes, in the shortest time, all the necessary measures for the appointment of a legal representative, which will assist the unaccompanied asylum-seeking child in all stages of the asylum procedure.[14] In practice, IGI-DAI instructs in writing the Directorate-General for Social Assistance and Child Protection to appoint a legal representative for the unaccompanied child, which will assist him or her during the asylum procedure. The notification is sent the next day or in a maximum of 3 days after the application was registered and the unaccompanied child was accommodated in one of the Regional Centres.

 

In case of vulnerable asylum seekers who are placed in specially designated closed spaces in the Regional Centres (see Detention of Asylum Seekers), the identity check and the assessment of their applications should be done with priority.[15] There have been no reported cases of this situation in practice.

 

Şomcuta Mare: The asylum applications of vulnerable asylum seekers (3 pregnant women) were not examined with priority. It was also noted that families with children were not interviewed before single male asylum seekers. However, for unaccompanied children, it could be observed that their asylum application was assessed with priority (usually they received the decision within 3 weeks). However, the swiftness of the procedure in case of unaccompanied children also depends on the availability of the legal representative.

 

Rădăuţi: The length of the asylum procedure for an unaccompanied child is the same as the procedure for an adult. The assessment of their application depends on the availability of a legal representative. Another stakeholder stated that some asylum applications made by unaccompanied children are examined with priority and some are not. Some of the unaccompanied children received the decision in 3 weeks.

 

Galaţi: The length of the asylum procedure for an unaccompanied child is the same as the procedure for an adult. The assessment of their application depends on the availability of a legal representative.

 

Timișoara: According to the JRS representative, in a case of a single parent family (mother and son) the decision was given within 30 days since the day they were accommodated in the Regional Centre. ICAR Foundation and CNRR representatives assisted them at the interview. The director of IGI-DAI centre stated that in this case the decision was given in 45 days. The length of the asylum procedure for an unaccompanied child in Timișoara is 60 days. Even though IGI-DAI takes all the necessary measures with priority – in a maximum of 3 days after the unaccompanied child has been accommodated in the centre – and the legal representative is assigned in 2-3 weeks. According to the director of IGI-DAI Timişoara, the asylum procedure of unaccompanied children may be delayed due to the bureaucratic procedures carried out by DGASPC.

 

Giurgiu: According to the JRS representative, the asylum applications of minors were prioritised, however the length of the procedure is the same as for adults. The assessment of their application depends on the availability of the interpreters.

 

Bucharest: According to the JRS representative, efforts were made to prioritise the asylum applications of unaccompanied minors and in general they were assessed with priority. However, even in their cases, there were numerous delays caused by the lack of interpreters.

 

According to Save the Children Romania, the examination of the asylum application of an unaccompanied minor is directly related to the appointment of the legal representative from DGASPC. It was reported that in some cases the appointment of the legal representative may take a lot of time, around 1-2 months. Also, the unaccompanied minors living in the reception centres, do not receive appropriate assistance from the designated legal representative (counselling, information). The legal representative attends the interviews in the asylum procedure, but they don’t have enough information to actually represent their interests.[16]

CNRR stated that they have no information on the use of prioritised or fast-track procedures.[17] According to IGI-DAI, in comparison with the previous years when no asylum claim was prioritised under Article 31(7) of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, in 2019, 189 asylum requests made by unaccompanied minors were prioritised.[18]

 

Personal interview

According to the law, an interview is conducted in order to assess the elements of an application for international protection.[19] Although the general rule is that an interview should be held in order to correctly assess the asylum claim, there are two situations where the interview is not mandatory:[20]

–        When IGI-DAI may take a decision to grant refugee status on the basis of evidence in the file;

–        When there are serious doubts about the capacity of the adult asylum seeker.

 

In 2019, 1,121 interviews were conducted, out of which 116 were conducted through videoconferencing. IGI-DAI took 70 decisions without an interview; out of which 67 were refugees relocated from Turkey and Jordan. IGI-DAI also took 806 decisions to decisions to discontinue the asylum procedure.[21]

 

All personal interviews, assessments of the reasons invoked by the asylum seeker and decisions are conducted by a designated case officer of IGI-DAI.[22]

 

Interpretation

 

Article 45(2) of the Asylum Act sets out the rules regarding the right to have an interpreter during the personal interview. At the request of the applicant and when deemed necessary for presenting all the reasons for the asylum application, the interview shall be carried out by the case officer, with the support of an interpreter, in the language indicated by the applicant or in a language he or she understands and can communicate clearly. As far as possible, if the applicant requests it, both the case officer and the interpreter will be of the same gender as the interviewee.[23]

 

Availability of interpreters and double interpretation

 

In the Regional Centres of Galaţi, Timișoara and Rădăuţi, Giurgiu it has been reported that there are not enough interpreters available for the main nationalities of asylum seekers:

 

Galaţi: There are only one Urdu and few Arabic interpreters. Their services are used by IGI-DAI and by the courts. As a consequence, quality control of their interpretation services is impossible to carry out. In one case, the procedure was delayed because the asylum seeker spoke a dialect and the authorities could not find an interpreter. Double interpretation was used from Kurdish to Arabic and from Arabic to Romanian. In this case, the asylum seeker declared only after his asylum application was rejected by IGI-DAI, that the transcript did not mention all the information provided by him at the interview.

 

Rădăuţi: IGI-DAI frequently uses the same three interpreters – one for Arabic, one for Farsi / Dari / Urdu and one for Bengali. It was noted that the Bengali interpreter had no experience in interpretation in asylum cases or good command of Romanian. The Ombudsman noted that the low remuneration for interpreters, 23 RON/ €4.8/ hour, is one reason for the low number of interpreters contracted by IGI-DAI.[24]

 

Timișoara: There is a lack of interpreters for different dialects. Iranian asylum seekers complained about the fact that at the interview IGI-DAI used an Afghani interpreter and they could not communicate well with the interpreter. The director of IGI-DAI Timișoara also mentioned that there should be more Kurdish and Arabic interpreters in the centre and also Bengali, Somali, Hindi, Farsi.

 

Giurgiu: There is still a lack of interpreters, especially for different dialects. However, efforts are made in order to solve this issue.

 

In Rădăuţi, IGI-DAI uses double interpretation from Kurdish to Arabic and from Arabic to Romanian. The interpreter for Arabic is not qualified and the interpreter for Kurdish was an asylum seeker himself that later obtained protection.

 

In 2019, the JRS representative from Rădăuţi reported that IGI-DAI still uses double interpretation from Kurdish to Arabic and from Arabic to Romanian. The Kurdish translator is a beneficiary of international protection and is illiterate. IGI-DAI also uses double interpretation from Kurdish to Turkish and from Turkish to Romanian and the Kurdish interpreter is an asylum seeker. According to the JRS representative, many asylum seekers complained about the quality of the double interpretation once they received a negative decision from IGI-DAI.

 

This aspect was also brought to the attention of the court in the appeal lodged against a negative decision taken through the accelerated procedure by IGI-DAI, which acknowledged the reluctance of the applicant to share his whole story because of the presence of a Kurdish interpreter who also lived in the Regional Centre of Rădăuţi. The applicant also criticised the fact that the Kurdish interpreter only graduated from Primary School and has no formal training in this field. The Regional Court Rădăuţi dismissed the appeal without even assessing the applicant’s claims regarding the double interpretation.[25]

 

Double interpretation is also used in Giurgiu, even though its effectiveness is questionable. In 2019 the double interpretation was used in cases concerning Tigrinya language.  

The shortcomings of double interpretation were also highlighted in a decision of the Regional Court of Giurgiu in 2018.[26] The appellant, an Ethiopian national of Oromo ethnicity, claimed that “over 80% of the information included in the interview did not correspond to his statements, the reason being the faulty interpretation, as two interpreters participated in the interview and the relevant information he provided was incomplete or omitted by one of the translators”. The appellant was heard, his statement being recorded separately and attached to the case file. The Regional Court of Giurgiu dismissed the case, but the appellant lodged an onward appeal. On 13 June 2018, the Administrative Country Court of Giurgiu allowed the appeal, quashed the decision of the Regional Court and remitted the case for re-examination. The Regional Court of Giurgiu heard the appellant again on 8 October 2018, with the help of an interpreter.

 

Şomcuta Mare: The Regional Centre collaborates with the same interpreters as last year, of the following languages: Farsi, Dari, Arabic, English and French. There is no Somali interpreter.

 

Stakeholders interviewed also reported that there is a limited number of female interpreters in the asylum procedure. For example, in the Regional Centre of Galaţi, there is a female interpreter for Arabic, English, French, Russian and Ukrainian. In Giurgiu, there are two female interpreters for English and Russian, in Rădăuţi there is one interpreter for English/French, in Şomcuta Mare and Timişoara there are no female interpreters for rare languages. They are only available for English, Spanish, Russian and French. However, the director of IGI-DAI Timișoara stated that they are collaborating with a female Arabic interpreter.

 

Similarly, there is a limited number of female case officers at IGI-DAI. In Timișoara, there is only one female case officer and 3 male case officers per city. However, the female case officer in Timişoara mainly deals with Dublin cases. In Bucharest, there are 3 female case officers, according to the JRS representative. In the rest of the Regional Centres, there are no female case officers. In Giurgiu and Şomcuta Mare, there are only two male case officers. In Şomcuta Mare, the legal counsellor asked the female asylum seekers if they would like to have the interview with a female case officer and they answered negatively. In Galaţi, there are 3 case officers and they are all male. In Rădăuţi, there are three male case officers. In Bucharest, there are 3 female case officers, according to the JRS representative.

 

Quality and conduct

 

A number of problems regarding the quality of the interpretation and conduct of interpreters has been reported. Interpreters are not sufficiently trained and, therefore, they are not impartial.
Related problems were also pointed out:

  • Some interpreters do not refrain from making comments, they express doubt about the asylum seekers’ declarations; e.g. “I was there, there are no Taliban”, “I know better”;
  • Some interpreters have private conversations with the asylum seeker and do not translate the conversation, or they express emotions;
  • Asylum seekers complained about an interpreter, who made comments during the personal interview like: “more briefly, I do not have all day at your disposal”, he selected the documents that the asylum seeker should present at IGI-DAI, and translated only a summary of what is written on the page and not the whole interview (question and answer). Even though the asylum seekers wanted to be assisted by the legal counsellor during the interview, the interpreter told them that “the presence of the legal counsellor is not necessary because you will be granted a form of protection anyway”.

 

In Timişoara, it was reported that a Farsi interpreter of Afghan origin was hired to translate during the interview for Iranian asylum seekers and, even though the asylum seekers requested another interpreter, the director of the Regional Centre Timişoara dismissed their request, saying that the interpreter would not be changed. According to an attorney, many asylum seekers complained that the interpreters are not translating accurately the declarations made during the interview. For example, although they told their story in several phrases, the interpreter translated everything only in one sentence. Small mistakes were noticed in the transcripts, but also small details can be essential for the outcome of the decision in their cases.

 

This was also echoed by another attorney, who mentioned in addition that the transcript is not read at the end of the interview, details are omitted, and interpreters are not making a diligent effort to interpret as accurately as possible. The attorney also reported that in one case the Arabic interpreter summoned by the court, clearly showed a lack of Romanian language skills as his knowledge was not sufficient in order to be able to express what the asylum seeker was saying. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, the attorney requested the judge to allow the applicant to speak in English. The judge granted this request because the judge also spoke English. The attorney also mentioned that in case of an Iranian family the court summoned an Afghani interpreter and it was clear that the interpreter did not know what the asylum seekers were saying. To make sure that the interpreter is exactly saying what the applicants were saying, the attorney had to ask many guiding questions. The same attorney also reported that at the court hearings, the interpreters never translate to the applicant the oral arguments of the attorney and of IGI-DAI’s legal counsellor, nor what the judge is saying, when the judge does not address the applicant directly, even though the judge requests the interpreter to translate for the applicants.

 

In Şomcuta Mare, it was reported that interpreters are not professionally trained on asylum issues. It was also noted that asylum seekers complain about the quality of interpretation during the interview only after they receive a negative decision from IGI-DAI. Asylum seekers declared that the interpreter omitted to translate some of the answers, or the interpretation was not accurate.

 

Rădăuţi: Many asylum seekers complained about the English/French interpreter, as she did not translate everything they were saying at the interview or did not translate accurately. The JRS representative observed that the Arabic and French interpreters are not relaying the exact message of the asylum seekers; they are rephrasing or changing the meaning of the message which may be detrimental for the asylum seeker. It was also noted that asylum seekers are complaining about these facts when they are issued a negative decision. It was also reported that two Somali asylum seekers had an Arabic interpreter at the interview; at the Regional Court they requested a Somali interpreter, but the judge refused to grant their request. As they had signed the transcript of the interview, the judge deemed that they were able to understand and communicate with the Arabic interpreter.

 

Bucharest: There are problems with interpretations for rare languages, for Bengali language, for example, there are only two interpreters and one of them does not have a good command of Romanian language and sometimes he translates only with “yes” or “no” an obvious longer answer of the asylum seeker. The case officer has to insist in order for the interpreter to relay the exact answer of the asylum seeker. For Tigrinya language, there is only one interpreter who is rarely available for interviews.

 

In relation to the problems with the quality of interpretation and conduct of interpreters, CNRR stated that there are no means / modalities available for verifying the interpretation, and appreciations are subjective.[27]

 

According to Save the Children Romania, one of the shortcomings for the asylum seekers is interpretation. IGI-DAI ensures interpretation only during the preliminary and personal interview and in all other situations when interpretation is needed it is ensured by NGOs or by other asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection from the community. The usual practice consists of volunteering other asylum seekers or beneficiaries to translate. Unaccompanied minors, whether they live in the child protection facilities or in the reception centre, don’t benefit from an interpreter that can mediate their interaction with the legal representative and with social workers, psychologists, and educators that work for DGASPC.[28]

 

It was noted that only CNRR and ICAR Foundation have funds for the services provided by interpreters. In addition, UNHCR funding may be extended to cover interpreter fees, in certain situations.

 

All the stakeholders interviewed by the author have declared that they have never heard about a Code of Conduct for interpreters in the asylum procedure, except one legal counsellor who stated that when JRS signs a contract with an interpreter they also have to sign a Code of Conduct. CNRR, on the other hand, stated that the Code of Conduct is applied in practice and provides elements such as the rights and obligations of the interpreter, the position and attitude during the personal interview and counselling sessions, the importance of using correct terminology, the impartiality and confidentiality concerning the information the interpreter comes into contact with. This Code of Conduct was transmitted to IGI-DAI by CNRR and they believe it is applied by IGI-DAI.[29]

 

Recording

 

The law does not prescribe audio/video recording of the personal interview. Personal interviews and preliminary interviews are not audio/video recorded.

 

Court sessions are recorded according to the Civil Procedure Code.[30] The rules concerning the recording of court hearings are set out in Article 13 of Act 304/2004 on Judicial Organisation, which provides that:

  1. The court hearings are recorded by video or audio technical means or recorded by stenography. Recordings or transcripts are immediately transcribed;
  2. The clerk or the stenographer shall record all the affirmations, questions and submissions of those present, including the president of the court panel;
  3. Upon request, the parties may receive a copy of the transcript of the Registrars, minutes or notes of the Registrar.

 

In 2019, interviews were conducted through videoconferencing in most of the regional centres, when there was no interpreter of certain languages.

 

Şomcuta Mare: In 2019 IGI-DAI conducted the interview for the first time through videoconference with interpreters from other centres, when there was no interpreter of that language in the area of the Regional Centre Şomcuta Mare. For example, in the cases of Somali, Bangladeshi and Sinhalese asylums seekers the videoconference was used during the interview. The legal counsellor asked the asylum seekers how the interview went, and they said that they could hear the interpreter and they could communicate with the interpreters without any issue. 

 

Timișoara: JRS was not aware of any interviews being conducted through videoconferencing. However, the director of the Regional Centre Timișoara stated that several interviews were conducted through videoconferencing due to the lack of interpreters. They conducted interviews through this method with Bengali interpreters from Bucharest and Giurgiu.

 

Galaţi: According to the JRS representative, IGI-DAI conducted interviews through videoconferencing with interpreters from other regional centres, in cases of asylum seekers who spoke Kurdish, Pashto, Farsi and Dari. Asylum seekers did not complain about the interviews conducted this way. The JRS representative also attended an interview conducted through videoconference and stated that it was like a real time, face to face communication, there were no delays and they could hear and see clear the interpreter. It was also noted that in the room with the interpreter there was another person, the legal counsellor was unaware of who he was.

 

Rădăuţi: This year interviews were conducted through videoconferencing for Somali and Bangladeshi asylum seekers. An asylum seeker from Bangladesh declared that the interpreter interfered with the manner in which the asylum seeker was telling his story. The same was reported about the Arabic interpreter, who also interfered and told the asylum seeker to state only the important matters and briefly.

 

Giurgiu: Videoconferencing was also used to conduct interviews. The JRS representative attended one interview conducted through videoconference and she stated that the interview was lengthy due to technical problems that interrupted the interview several times; the interview was taking place in the meeting room. Thus, the case officer had no access to a computer and he was constrained to handwrite the interview and to transcribe it afterwards.

 

Transcript

 

The case officer conducting the interview transcribes the questions and the answers/statements verbatim. The transcript includes at least the following data: identification data of the applicant, the name of the case officer who performs the interview, the name of the interpreter and, as the case may be, of the legal representative, the counsellor and/or the lawyer assisting the applicant, the language of the interview, the reasons for the request for international protection, as well as the applicant’s statement that all the data and information presented at the interview are correct. Where appropriate, the interview note shall also include the applicant's explanations of the failure to present elements to be considered when examining the asylum application and/or clarification of inconsistencies or contradictions in his or her statements.[31]

 

At the end of the interview, the transcript of the interview is orally translated by the interpreter to the applicant.[32] The applicant has the possibility to formulate observations and/or to offer clarifications relating to any errors of translation or misunderstanding, which will be recorded in the interview transcript.[33] After this, the transcript is signed on every page by all the persons present at the interview.[34] A copy of the transcript is given to the asylum seeker or legal representative, his or her lawyer or counsellor, as the case may be, which assisted him or her at the interview, after the document was signed.[35] If the applicant refuses to sign the transcript, the reasons for his or her refusal will be mentioned on the transcript. The applicant's refusal to sign the transcript does not prevent IGI-DAI from taking a decision on the asylum application.[36]

 

In Timișoara, asylum seekers complained that they are not notified in advance of the date of the interview. According to the JRS representative, the officers are waking them up on the day of the interview or they are not allowed to leave the accommodation centre in the morning, or they are informed about the interview the day before. The latter is not applied often because IGI-DAI is afraid that the asylum seekers might leave. Furthermore, the information on the practice was corroborated by an attorney who stated that some asylum seekers mentioned that they are woken up at 7 AM and taken to the interview. It was also reported by one of the attorneys that at the end of the interview, the transcript is not fully translated by the interpreter; the interpreter only informs the asylum seekers that they have to sign the transcript as it includes all of their statements. According to the director of IGI-DAI Timișoara, asylum seekers are notified about the date of the interview in writing in their language or in English or at the preliminary interview when the interpreter is available. According to JRS representative, in 2019 there were no cases of asylum seekers complaining about the translation of the transcripts.

 

In Galaţi, there have been no cases of asylum seekers complaining about the quality of the interpretation and the transcript. According to the legal counsellor, the transcript was read out during all the interviews she attended. There was only one asylum seeker complaining about the fact that the interpreter did not relay everything, aspects that he mentioned were omitted by the interpreter. 

 

In Giurgiu, the legal counsellor explained that at the interviews she attended the transcript was read out loud by the interpreter and asylum seekers had the opportunity to formulate objections and to make additional notes, which were subsequently inserted in the transcript.

 

In Şomcuta Mare, according to the legal counsellor, at the interviews she attended the transcripts were read. However, 2 asylum seekers complained that the transcript was not read at all at the end of their interview. The JRS representative shared that they argued this in court. The judge, however, ruled that they could not successfully claim that the interpreter did not read the transcript since the applicants had signed it. 

 

In Rădăuţi, some of the asylum seekers have reported that the interpreter does not translate the whole transcript (questions and answers), but only makes a summary thereof. There were no problems reported regarding the formulation of observations at the end of the interview. According to the JRS representative, she attended interviews where the interpreter rephrased the transcript, but also where the interpreter translated the whole transcript word for word.

 

In Bucharest, it was reported by the JRS representative that the interpreter reads the transcript and the asylum seeker is asked if he has any objections. However, an asylum seeker declared to the NGOs staff that the objections were not registered.

 

If necessary, the case officer may conduct another interview with the asylum seeker.[37]

 

Appeal

 

The decision taken (admission or rejection) by IGI-DAI is communicated, immediately, to the asylum seeker in writing, through direct communication by the representatives of the IGI-DAI if the asylum seeker lives in the Centre, or by post at the last declared residence of the applicant.[38] The decision may be communicated to the lawyer or NGO representative representing the asylum seeker, if the asylum seeker has expressly requested this.[39]

 

The decision is accompanied by written information, in Romanian and in a language that the applicant understands or is reasonably supposed to understand, related to the admission or rejection of the asylum application and the conditions under which the decision may be appealed, as the case may be.[40] In practice, the justification of the decision is written in Romanian and is translated by the NGO representatives.

 

The decision taken by IGI-DAI may be challenged in a two-instance judicial review procedure.

 

Appeal before the Regional Court

 

The Regional Court (Judecătoria Secţia Civilă) has jurisdiction in asylum cases, as the first-instance judicial review. The Regional Court is made up of a single judge. The judges are not specialised in asylum law. At most they have participated at national conferences organised by NGOs or UNHCR.

 

The appeals, as well as the other procedural acts regarding the resolution of the appeal, are exempt from legal taxes and legal expenses cannot be demanded.[41]

 

In 2019, a total of 598 appeals against IGI-DAI decisions were filed before the Regional Courts.[42]

 

Time limits

 

The deadline for lodging an appeal is 10 days from the day the decision was communicated.[43] The appeal has automatic suspensive effect, if it was lodged within the term prescribed by law.[44]

 

The law contains a procedural safeguard in case of appeals lodged after the time limit set out by law.[45] Therefore, in case of filing the appeal or onward appeal after the deadline, the applicant may request the suspension of the execution of the return decision. The request for suspension shall be settled within 7 days from its registration, by the competent court, which shall pronounce the decision in the council chamber, without the parties being summoned, by an irrevocable decision.[46] While this review is pending, the foreigner cannot be removed from the country.[47]

 

If the court admits the request to suspend the execution of the removal decision, the foreigner has the right to remain in the country pending the outcome of the request for reinstatement of the legal term to appeal.[48] The foreigner will benefit from all the rights provided by Articles 17 and 18 of the Asylum Act from the moment the court admits the request for reinstatement of the legal term to appeal.[49]

 

The appeal has to be motivated in fact and in law.[50] It may be lodged at IGI-DAI, which has issued the decision or directly to the competent court.[51] The appeal has to be accompanied by a copy of the IGI-DAI decision and other documents or elements on which the appeal is based on.[52] The court carries out an assessment of both points of facts and law. The decision of the first instance court incorporates the reasons in fact and law on which it is based.[53]

 

In general, there are no problems in appealing a decision, if asylum seekers consult the legal counsellor of an NGO.[54] In Bucharest, when communicating the decision, IGI-DAI also provides the asylum seeker with the postal address of the Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR) in English. Asylum seekers are told by the representative of IGI-DAI who communicates the decision, that they have to go to CNRR for legal counselling and assistance for lodging an appeal. This practice is in place since 2017. The JRS representative reported that sometimes this information is communicated to the asylum seeker, taking into account that CNRR has an office in Tudor Gociu Centre. Nevertheless, there were cases in which the rejected asylum seekers did not know who to turn to for the drafting the appeal against the decision of IGI-DAI.

Article 62 of the Asylum Act provides that asylum cases should be dealt with priority before other civil matters.[55] The court should take a decision on the appeal within 30 days.[56] The court has to motivate its decision within 5 days since it was pronounced.[57]

 

IGI-DAI statistics refer to 1 to 3 months average duration of the appeal procedure.[58] In practice, the average processing time for the first instance judicial court defers from county to county, as follows:

 

Average duration of the appeal procedure by Regional Court: 2018

Regional Court

Number of days

Bucharest (District 4)

90

Galaţi

90

Baia-Mare

30

Giurgiu

90

Rădăuţi

14 – 90

Timișoara

35 – 90

 

Şomcuta Mare: The JRS representative reported that the duration of the appeal procedure differs from case to case. There were cases where the appeal procedure lasted maximum 30 days, if the interpreter and the lawyers were present and the asylum seeker could be heard. In cases where there is no lawyer appointed or the interpreter is not present, the court hearings are postponed, and the appeal can last 3-4 months.

 

Galaţi: If there is a need for a Kurdish interpreter, the procedure can last 3 months, as the available Kurdish interpreter is no longer approved by IGI-DAI.

 

Rădăuţi: According to the JRS representative there were cases were the appeal procedure lasted 60 days. According to the legal counsellor, the length of the procedure depends on the judge; there are some judges that are not postponing the hearing for any reason. In these cases, the appeal may last 14 days.

 

Timișoara: According to a lawyer, the average duration of the appeal procedure is around 35 days. Another lawyer mentioned that the average duration of the appeal is 45 days. According to the Director of the Regional Centre Timișoara, the average duration of the appeal procedure is 3 months.

 

In one case in 2018, the Regional Court of Giurgiu “gave the floor to the parties in order to estimate the duration of the proceedings. The applicant’s representative estimated the length of the procedure to 2 to 3 court hearings. IGI-DAI’s legal counsellor estimated the length of the proceedings to a single hearing. According to Article 248 of the Civil Procedure Code, the court estimated the duration of the procedure to one month”.[59]

 

Hearing

 

The law establishes that the court may order the hearing of the asylum seeker when it considers that it is useful to settle the case.[60]

 

Some Regional Courts (Galaţi, Baia-Mare) always hear the asylum seeker ex officio. In Galaţi, in some cases the judge asks the applicant if he or she has something to add; in others the judge may ask questions. However, it was reported that in one case the asylum seeker requested the judge of the Regional Court of Galaţi to be heard, but the judge said it was not necessary if he did not have anything new to add. In Baia-Mare, on the other hand, there is an actual hearing.

 

In Giurgiu it was reported that if the asylum seeker has no attorney appointed, the judge hears the applicant ex officio. However, there were also cases when the applicants had neither a lawyer nor an interpreter and, thus, the hearing was impossible. As regards the actual hearing of the applicant, some of the judges ask the applicants if they have anything else to add, others allow the applicants to recount their stories again. There are also judges with no experience in asylum cases, who ask exclusively questions such as: “what countries did he or she transit?; how much did he or she pay to the smuggler?; etc.”, without including any questions about the well-founded fear of being persecuted.

 

In the Regional Court of Timișoara, the hearing of the asylum seeker is requested either by the lawyer or the judge. In Rădăuţi, some of the hearings consist in asking the asylum seeker if he has something to add, while in other cases all the parties ask questions and, only in few cases, asylum seekers have the opportunity to give full statements.

 

In the Regional Court of Bucharest District 4, the practice witnessed in 2017 of the asylum seekers not been heard in most of the cases, changed in 2018 when some of the judges started hearing the asylum seekers ex officio. However, the hearing consists in asking the asylum seeker if he has something else to add or to clarify contradictory aspects. A lawyer reported that in 2018 some of the judges started to exercise an active role, asking questions to the asylum seeker.

 

According to a lawyer, the hearing of the asylum seekers depends on the willingness of the judge to clarify some aspects of the interview or the appeal; some of the judges have additional questions and some of them only ask the applicant if they have something else to declare.

 

According to CNRR, the hearing is not compulsory, under the Asylum Act – it is up to the judge if he or she hears the asylum seeker. In general, the Regional Court of Bucharest District 4 and the other regional courts hear the asylum seekers when evidence is to be requested and administered.[61]

 

According to a lawyer, as a general rule the court conducts a hearing with the asylum seeker, albeit a very brief one. The hearing of the asylum seeker is usually requested by attorneys with expertise in the asylum field and not by attorneys paid from the legal aid scheme, assisting and representing asylum seekers for the first time and with limited knowledge in asylum law.

 

Hearings in asylum cases are not public.[62] This was respected in practice in all the courts.

 

Another improvement noticed by a lawyer in the Regional Court of Bucharest District 4 is that, since October/November 2018, the list of hearings displayed outside the courtroom is anonymised and no longer contains the name of the asylum-seeking appellants.

 

Decision

 

The Regional Courts took 364 decisions in 2019.[63]

                                          

At the national level, there is a court’s portal available online,[64] but not all the asylum cases are published on it.

 

The practice regarding the publication of the decisions of the Regional Court varies. For example, the appeals reviewed by the Regional Court of Rădăuţi and Administrative Country Court of Suceava are all published on the national portal. However, as opposed to 2017, the full name of the applicant is no longer included; only his or her initials, file number and the decision reached by the court in short i.e. acceptance or dismissal of the appeal.  On the other hand, practice has not change at the Regional Court and the Administrative Country Court of Giurgiu, where all the appeals are published and include full names, file number and the decision in short.

 

In addition, some of the decisions of the Regional Courts of Rădăuţi and Giurgiu are published on a website funded by the Supreme Council of Judges and the National Union of Public Notaries of Romania. Some of the names of the applicants are anonymised while others are not.[65]

 

In 2019 asylum seekers could no longer consult the progress and outcome of their cases reviewed by the Regional Court of Baia-Mare and the Tribunal of Maramureș because the files are no longer scanned on the portal of the Court of Appeal, even though the court still communicates a password for the portal. As a consequence, it is now difficult for the asylum seeker and NGO representatives to follow the cases. The JRS representative has to enquire the Bar Association who was appointed as a lawyer in the case, in order to contact him or her for more details regarding the case.

 

Some of the decisions of the Regional Court of Timișoara are published on the national portal. All published appeals, include full names, file number and the decision in short.[66] Even though the court communicates the password, the case files of asylum seekers are not recorded on the Court of Appeal portal. In the past, a register for all the cases submitted to the court, including asylum cases, was available. At present, all the registers are abolished except one, which is used only for the asylum cases. In the register, a clerk is writing the case file, the initials of the asylum seekers’ name and the decision of the court. One of the lawyers stated that in order to know the decision of the court, he calls the public information office of the court.

 

The decisions of the Regional Court and Administrative Country Court of Galaţi are not published on the national portal. In order to obtain the decisions or to receive other documents from the case file, the interested parties may file a request at the court’s registry and the documents are sent to them via email. The asylum seeker is informed about the decision of the court either by his or her attorney or by the NGO representatives, who are in contact with the legal department of IGI-DAI.

 

The decisions of the Regional Court of Bucharest District 4 are neither published on any portal nor written in the registers. The decisions may only be accessed through the court’s archive.

 

Onward appeal

 

In 2019, there were 236 onward appeals before the Administrative County Courts.[67]

 

The law prescribes the possibility to appeal against the decision of the Regional Court.[68] The competent court is the County Tribunal, Administrative Litigation Section (Administrative County Court), which has jurisdiction over the area of the Regional Court whose decision is appealed.[69] The Administrative County Court is made up of three judges.

 

The onward appeal has to be lodged within 5 days from the day the Regional Court decision was pronounced and has automatic suspensive effect, if it is lodged in due time.[70]

 

The average duration of the onward appeal procedure is 2-3 months.[71] In practice, this varies from one court to another:

 

Average duration of the onward appeal procedure by Administrative County Court: 2018

Administrative County Court

Number of days

Bucharest (District 4)

150 – 180

Galaţi

90

Maramureș

21 – 30

Giurgiu

60 – 90

Suceava

60 – 90

Timișoara

90 – 120

 

The onward appeal does not look at facts, but examines if the appealed decision is compliant with the applicable rules.[72] As a consequence, the onward appeal has to include the grounds for illegality on which the appeal is based.[73] The decision has to be motivated within 10 days from the day it is communicated by the Regional Court.

 

Timișoara: According to a lawyer, the average duration of the onward appeal is 129 days; another lawyer reported that the average duration is 67 days. According to the director of the Regional Centre Timișoara, the average duration of the onward appeal is 3 months, one of the reasons for this is the fact that it takes a lot of time for the Regional Court to motivate its decision.

 

Şomcuta Mare: If all the procedural formalities are fulfilled, the onward appeal can be finalised in 30 days. 3 onward appeals (a family and 2 single man) have been pending for 1 year. In these cases, the court hearings were postponed several times in order to allow the asylum seekers to produce documentary evidence to substantiate their statements; the court requested original and translated documents. In addition, during the judicial/court holidays the court hearings were postponed for 2 months.

 

Rădăuţi: It was reported that in one case the onward appeal of an asylum seeker lasted 9-10 months.

 

Bucharest: According to the JRS representative, the average duration of the onward appeal is 90 days; according to an attorney is between 150-180 days.

 

In Timișoara, it was reported by one of the lawyers that the Administrative County Court of Timișoara sent subpoenas in which it envisaged that grounds for rebuttal have to be lodged. However, the reasoned onward appeal is not communicated to the parties.

 

One of the lawyers in Bucharest stated that some of the judges of the Regional Court of Bucharest District 4 take up to two or three months to draft and communicate the reasoned decision. Therefore, the duration of the onward appeal procedure may reach 6 months.

 

According to CNRR the average duration of the onward appeal is 90 days. However, at the Administrative County Court of Bucharest District 4, the procedure may reach 180 days.[74]

 

The practice observed in Bucharest in 2017 that, in most of the cases lawyers paid by the legal aid scheme did not appeal against the decision of the Regional Court, changed in 2018 and 2019. According to a lawyer who is also the head of the Judicial Assistance Service of the Bucharest Bar Association, lawyers are starting to lodge onward appeals, but they are not aware if they have the mandate to also draft the reasoned appeal in these cases.

 

On the other hand, CNRR stated that in general CNRR lodges onward appeals if the asylum seeker presents the decision.[75]

 

According to the Civil Procedure Code, the attorney who represented or assisted the party during the trial may, even without a mandate, take any act for the preservation of rights subject to a term, which would be lost by failing to do so on time and appeal against the judgment. In these cases, only the party will handle all the procedural documents. The supporting of the appeal can only be based on a new power of attorney.[76]

 

Therefore, attorneys can appeal the Regional Court decision even without a mandate in this regard, in order to preserve the rights of their client, which are subject to a term and will otherwise be lost by failure to act in time. The provision emphasises that the attorney may also appeal against a judgment without having a mandate. It also mentions that a new power of attorney is needed for representing/ arguing the appeal in the higher court. Therefore, the law makes a difference between declaring/filing an appeal and representing/arguing it.

 

Legal assistance

 

According to Article 17(1)(e) of the Asylum Act, the asylum seeker has the right to counselling and assistance from a representative of a Romanian or foreign NGO, in any phase of the asylum procedure. The asylum seeker has the right to be given, upon request, legal and procedural information, including information on the first instance procedure, in line with the provisions on public judicial assistance in civil matters, taking into account his or her personal situation.[77]

 

The law sets out the right of the asylum seeker to be provided, upon request, according to the legislation on public judicial assistance in civil matters and taking into account the personal situation of the foreigner, information on the motivation of the rejection of the asylum application, the procedure for challenging the ordinance through which the measure of placement in a specially closed spaces was taken, as well as the possibility of challenge the decision which granted, reduced or withdraw the material reception conditions.[78]

 

Legal assistance at first instance

 

There are no restrictions or conditions for accessing legal counselling at first instance.

 

In the administrative phase of the procedure, free legal counselling and assistance is provided by NGOs through projects funded by the national Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) scheme and UNHCR Romania. The Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR) provides specialised legal counselling and assistance to all asylum seekers upon request in the 6 Regional Centres for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum Seekers, through a project funded by the national Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) programme. CNRR’s legal counsellors have an office in the regional centres where they are available every weekday for 8 hours per day.

 

The Ecumenical Association of Churches from Romania (AIDRom), one of the implementing NGOs, provides legal counselling to asylum seekers accommodated in their two Accommodation Centres, one in Timișoara, operating since August 2012 with a capacity of 15 places and one in Bucharest, working since 2015 with 18 places. They accommodate vulnerable persons, especially single mothers with children. The AIDRom centres in these cities are funded both by AMIF and by external donors. In addition, the legal counsellor of AIDRom also provides legal counselling and assistance in the IGI-DAI of Bucharest (Tudor Gociu).

 

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), through the project “Improving the situation of asylum seekers in Romania”, also provides legal assistance and information in all the Regional Centres, which is complementary to the assistance afforded by CNRR. The project is funded by UNHCR Romania.

 

The legal counsellors provide information with respect to the rights and obligations, the house rules of the Regional Centre, the asylum procedure and steps to be followed. They also prepare asylum seekers for the personal interview and once the decision was communicated to them, they also explain the decision and the possibility to challenge it. Information and counselling are provided on other matters related to the asylum procedure requested by the asylum seeker. The legal counsellor may assist the asylum seeker during his or her personal interview if he or she requests so.

 

Under the project funded by UNHCR, JRS may appoint a lawyer if the asylum seeker is a vulnerable or a person of interest for UNHCR or if it is a case that might lead to a practice altering-decision. According to JRS representative from Timișoara, the conditions for receiving funding for lawyers are even tighter. Legal representation by a lawyer under the Legal Aid Act includes representation in the administrative phase of the procedure.[79] According to Article 35 of Legal Aid Act, legal aid may also be extra-judicial and consist in consultations, filing of applications, petitions, referrals, initiation of other related legal steps, as well as representation before public authorities or institutions other than judicial or with jurisdictional powers, with a view to achieving the individual’s legitimate rights or interests. This was confirmed by the National Union of Romanian Bar Associations.[80] However, according to the head of the Judicial Assistance Service at the Bucharest Bar Association no legal aid applications for representation in the administrative phase of the procedure were lodged.

 

In all other cases, the asylum seeker has to pay the lawyer’s fee if he or she wishes to be represented by a lawyer during the personal interview.

 

Legal assistance in appeals

 

In court proceedings, legal aid may be provided by NGOs (CNRR and JRS), which have limited funds for legal representation. In addition, if the case of the asylum seeker is not eligible for a lawyer contracted through NGOs, legal counsellors may draft a request for legal state aid. According to the answer provided by the Regional Court of Giurgiu, out of 51 appeals received by the court in 2019, 26 cases made an application for legal aid, and 8 legal aid applications were rejected.[81] No reviews of the applications for legal aid were lodged in these rejected cases.[82] According to CNRR, the reason for the dismissal of the requests is that the applicants had access to legal counselling from CNRR and, therefore, they do not need the assistance of an attorney.[83]

 

An attorney reported that the Regional Court of District 4 of Bucharest dismissed the application for legal aid in one case because the applicant failed to prove the lack of income. It was noted that the judge in this case was newly appointed in asylum cases.

 

In most of the cases, asylum seekers turn to legal counsellors for drafting and lodging the appeal against a negative decision of IGI-DAI. NGOs (CNRR and JRS) have funds also for attorney’s fees, which can assist asylum seekers in the court proceedings. Therefore, if the representative of the NGO which assisted the asylum seeker examines the case and considers that it is eligible for a lawyer, he or she sends a request using a standard form to their headquarters in Bucharest for the approval and, in case of a positive assessment, the asylum seeker will be assisted by one of the lawyers from the roster of the organisation.

 

Bucharest: According to a lawyer, who is the head of the Judicial Assistance Service of the Bucharest Bar Association, lawyers paid through the state legal aid scheme are becoming more involved, with some of them requesting guidance from the head of the Judicial Assistance Service. However, only a few lawyers requested an adjournment of the hearing in order to prepare the case. The JRS representative reported that the asylum seeker only meets his or her lawyer paid through the state legal aid at the court hearing and, as a consequence, they cannot prepare and discuss the details of the case.

 

In 2019, the Bar Associations in Romania did not organise any training on asylum law for the lawyers inserted in the legal aid register and other interested lawyers. One of the attorneys interviewed reported that there is a stringent need for trainings for lawyers.

 

The National Bar Association of Romania (UNBR), in partnership with the Foundation for Legal Resources Centre (CRJ), implemented the project "Education program and legal assistance for improving citizens' access to justice – JUST ACCESS", under which a national campaign was organised on legal information, education and awareness on the citizens’ right, including information on the judicial institutions and the services provided by them, with emphasis on the rights of vulnerable groups.[84] According to an attorney training within the project, migrants and asylum seekers were included in the category of vulnerable groups.

 

JRS Romania organised training for the lawyers registered in the legal aid register in Galaţi and Giurgiu. In Giurgiu, at the training organised jointly with UNHCR, only 4-5 lawyers participated. UNHCR Romania organised a seminar for lawyers and legal counsellors on “The European Court of Human Rights mechanisms to protect asylum seekers and refugees while in administrative/immigration detention”.

 

The legal counsellor in Giurgiu stated that there are certain aspects that can be improved regarding the legal representation through the state legal aid, especially when it comes to communication between the applicant and lawyer appointed ex officio. One of the problems identified is the language barrier. Nonetheless, lawyers paid through the legal aid scheme are not willing to make use of the interpreter, even when one is available. Most of the times, this happened at the first court hearing, when the lawyer meets for the first time the client and the interpreter is also present. Some of the lawyers do not even provide their contact details to their clients. Another aspect that can be improved is that lawyers should request evidence that can substantiate solid arguments before the court.

 

In the Regional Centre of Galaţi, legal representation through the state legal aid scheme is ensured by lawyers who have participated in seminars and conferences organised by NGOs. Attorneys paid through state legal aid are contacting the NGO representatives (CNRR and JRS) to discuss the case with the asylum seekers and to obtain all the documents from their file. The onward appeal is filed either by the attorneys representing the applicants, including those paid through the state legal aid scheme, or by the legal counsellors from the NGOs.

 

In Şomcuta Mare, legal representation through the state legal aid scheme is ensured by 5 lawyers, out of which 2 are newly appointed in asylum cases; the other 3 lawyers attended CNRR seminars for lawyers. They keep in touch with the asylum seekers through the NGOs present in the centre. However, the legal counsellor of CNRR or JRS drafts the appeal. The JRS representative drafts the request for legal state aid jointly with the appeal. As soon as the asylum seeker receives the subpoena, the JRS representative calls the Bar Association to know who the appointed attorney for the case is. Lawyers meet their client for the first time at the court hearing. The Regional Court does not transmit the request swiftly and in some cases the lawyer was appointed 2 days before the court hearing. There were also cases where the lawyers paid through the legal state aid were appointed just before the court hearing and, at the request of the asylum seekers, the court granted them an hour to discuss with their attorney. The practice noticed in 2018 whereby the Bar Association appointed the same lawyer in the appeal and onward appeal procedures is not in place anymore in 2019.

 

In Timișoara, from a large number of attorneys appointed by the Bar Association through the legal aid scheme, only one or two attorneys are knowledgeable about asylum law, according to the director of the Regional Centre of Timişoara. The rest of the lawyers paid through the legal aid scheme are not specialized or effectively involved, some of them do not even attend the court hearings. According to a lawyer, the lawyers appointed through the state legal aid scheme show lack of interest in the asylum cases and they do not meet with their clients.

 

In Rădăuţi, the lawyers paid through the state legal aid scheme are not knowledgeable about asylum law. According to JRS representative the attorneys paid through the state legal aid rarely contact or discuss with the asylum seekers. It was also reported that attorneys paid through the state legal aid are not making any oral arguments during the court hearing, not discussing with their clients and not lodging the onward appeal.

 

CNRR reported that some of the attorneys paid through state legal aid even requested the rejection of the appeal lodged by his or her client. Some of them have no minimum training in the field; the communication with asylum seekers is deficient.[85]

 

Two different lawyers in Bucharest mentioned that one of the most important aspects that should be considered and addressed by institutions and organisations working with asylum seekers is to ensure continuity of legal assistance through the entire asylum procedure. One of the attorneys stated that there are asylum seekers leaving the Regional Centre and moving into the city who often lose contact with the NGOs. This situation may hinder their asylum procedure since they have no knowledge of the law and, if an attorney paid from the legal aid scheme assists them, there is no certainty that they will file an onward appeal.

 

This issue still persists in practice. It was reported that the communication between lawyer and client is not facilitated in any way, and no interpreter is involved. There are situations where the lawyers lose contact with the asylum seeker, including due to delays between the lodging of the onward appeal and the communication of the reasoned decision of the Regional Court to the asylum seeker, which can reach two to three months. There are also situations when asylum seekers move out of the Regional Centre and do not know that they have to inform the court of their new address. Hence the decision is communicated at the old address without reaching the asylum seeker and, as a result, the onward appeal is not motivated in the timeframe prescribed by law and ends up being dismissed. Another issue reported by a lawyer is that lawyers do not follow the state of play of the proceedings and as a result they do not keep their clients reasonably informed about their case.

 

The asylum seekers are not aware that they have to lodge the onward appeal within 5 days from the decision of the court, as they are do not know how to be informed of the decision taken by the Region Court on their case. As consequence, an attorney from the Bucharest Bar reported that many onwards appeals are lodged after the deadline and they are dismissed because the Administrative County Court of Bucharest rules that the applicants had access to legal counseling from an NGO.

 

At the same time, CNRR reported that there were no problems in lodging the onward appeals[86]. According to IGI-DAI statistics, in 58 cases the asylum seekers did not lodge an onward appeal against the decision of the Regional Courts.[87]

 

A lawyer, assisted by an NGO, referred to a case where the onward appeal was not lodged within the deadlines prescribed by law and the request for the deadline extension was rejected on the ground that the asylum seeker had received legal assistance from the NGO.

 

There are lawyers who are effectively involved in representing their client regardless of the amount of financial compensation, and others who complain about the small amount of their fee. The fee paid through the state legal aid ranges from 130 to 300 RON/ €28 to €66 per judicial instance. Lawyers working with the NGOs are aware of how the funding schemes work in this branch. The low level of remuneration is an obstacle in the sense that it seldom attracts new practitioners to this field. Usually, the lawyers with experience in asylum claims are also specialised in a more financially rewarding field (civil or commercial law), allowing them to continue also with asylum cases.

 

Since the fees available are part of projects, their level cannot be easily raised or decided based on a sustainable plan. The costs are subject to the evaluation of the team deciding on AMIF funding within the government structures. It often reflects an indicator calculus which may be quite rigid. Any potential changes in the level of remuneration are subject to the “project echo” effect – from the moment an application and the budget are drafted to the last expense, a large period of time may pass, in some cases, even 2.5 years.

 



[1]Article 52(1) Asylum Act.

[2]Article 52(4) Asylum Act.

[3]Article 52(2) Asylum Act.

[4]Article 52(3) Asylum Act.

[5]Article 52(5) Asylum Act.

[6]Article 52(6) Asylum Act.

[7]Decision 2207/17 September 2019, Regional Court of Radauti.

[8]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.

[9]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 5 March 2019.

[10]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.

[11]Decision 3417/02 December 2019, regional Court of Radauti- asylum application made on 05 August 2019, IGI-DAI decision issued on 17 October 2019; decision 2622/14 October 2019 Regional Court of Radauti- asylum application made on 13 June 2019, IGI-DAI decision issued on 4 September 2019; decision 48/20 November 2019 Administrative County Court of Suceava- asylum application made on 29 November 2018, IGI-DAI decision issued on 5 February 2019.

[12]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[13]Article 16(1) Asylum Act.

[14]Article 16(2) Asylum Act.

[15]Article 19^11 Asylum Act.

[16]Information provided by Save the Children, 5 December 2019.

[17]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[18]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.

[19]Article 19^6(2) Asylum Act.

[20]Article 45(3) Asylum Act.

[21]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 5 March 2019.

[22]Article 48 Asylum Act.

[23]Article 45(2) Asylum Act.

[24]Ombudsman, Report 46,2019, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3am46vB.

[25]Regional Court Rădăuţi, Decision 3121/2019, 13 November 2019.

[26]Regional Court Giurgiu, Decision5170/2018, 24 October 2018. Unofficial translation by the author.

[27]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[28]Information provided by Save the Children, 5 December 2019.

[29]Ibid.

[30]Article 231(4) Civil Procedure Code: The court will record the court hearings. If the parties are challenging the content of the clerk’s notes, it will be verified and, if necessary, supplemented or rectified based on the records of the court hearing.

[31]Article 45(5) Asylum Act.

[32]Article 45(7) Asylum Act.

[33]Article 45(6) Asylum Act.

[34]Article 45(8) Asylum Act.

[35]Article 45(9) Asylum Act.

[36]Article 45(10) Asylum Act.

[37]Article 45(11) Asylum Act.

[38]Article 54(1) Asylum Act.

[39]Article 54(1^1) Asylum Act.

[40]Article 54(1) Asylum Act.

[41]Article 65 Asylum Act.

[42]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 5 March 2019.

[43]Article 55(1) Asylum Act.

[44]Article 55(2) Asylum Act.

[45]Article 69 Asylum Act.

[46]Article 69(1) Asylum Act.

[47]Article 69(2) Asylum Act.

[48]Article 69(3) Asylum Act.

[49]Article 69(4) Asylum Act.

[50]Article 57(1)(c) Asylum Act.

[51]Article 56 Asylum Act.

[52]Articles 56(1) and 57 Asylum Act.

[53]Article 425(b) Civil Code.

[54]Information provided by CNRR, 9 January 2018.

[55]Article 62(1) Asylum Act.

[56]Article 64(2) Asylum Act.

[57]Article 64(3) Asylum Act.

[58]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20February 2020.

[59]Regional Court of Giurgiu, Decision 1427/2018, 7 March 2018.Unofficial translation by the author.

[60]Article 63 Asylum Act.

[61]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[62]Article 58 Asylum Act.

[63]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20February 2020.

[64]Ministry of Justice, Portalu linstanţelor de judecată, available in Romanian at: http://bit.ly/2hGMVhM.

[65]Romanian Legal Information Institute (Rolii), available in Romanian at:https://bit.ly/2PKL4Yw.  

[66]Ministry of Justice, Portalu linstanţelor de judecată, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/32qwkAb

[67]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 5 March 2019.

[68]Article 66 Asylum Act.

[69]Article 67 Asylum Act.

[70]Article 66(2) and (4) Asylum Act.

[71]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2019.

[72]Article 483(3) Civil Procedure Code.

[73]Article 486(1)(d) Civil Procedure Code.

[74]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[75]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[76]Article 87(2)(3) Civil Procedure Code.

[77]Article 17(1)(s) Asylum Act.

[78]Ibid.

[79]Government Emergency Ordinance 51/2008.

[80]Information provided by the National Union of Romanian Bar Associations, 8 January 2018.

[81]Information provided by the Regional Court Giurgiu, 04 February 2019.

[82]Information provided by the Regional Court Giurgiu, 04 February 2019.

[83]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[84]National Bar Association of Romania (UNBR), information available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/2SXHeww.

[85]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[86]Information provided by CNRR, 9 December 2019.

[87]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2019.

 

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation