First country of asylum


Country Report: First country of asylum Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

The Asylum Act stipulates that the first country of asylum is the country in which the applicant has been granted refugee status and they is still able to avail him or herself of that protection, or in which the applicant enjoys effective protection, including the guarantees arising from the non-refoulement principle.[1]

The applicant is entitled to challenge the application of the concept of first country of asylum in relation to their specific circumstances.[2]

The first country of asylum concept was applied twice in 2020, including in relation to a gay man from Burundi who was granted refugee protection in Uganda,[3] but the author of this report cannot say with certainty if this concept was applied in 2021.

According to the BCHR legal representatives, the Asylum Office failed to assess the risk and problems that the applicant faced as a gay man in Uganda and the persecution that he was subjected to by Ugandan security forces. Another problem that was flagged by BCHR lawyers is the fact that the applicant was left only one day to provide evidence and challenge the application of the first country of asylum concept.[4] The Asylum Commission rejected BCHR’s appeal, but the Administrative Court upheld it stating in essence that the time which was left to the applicant to dispute the safety in the first country of asylum was insufficient.[5]

Another case concerns the client of APC whose asylum application was dismissed because he was granted UNHCR refugee mandate status in Türkiye. All three instances took a stance that Türkiye should be considered as first country of asylum, even though the protection was granted by UNHCR.[6]

In 2022, there were no decisions in which asylum authorities invoked first country of asylum concept.




[1] Article 43(1) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 43(2) Asylum Act.

[3] Asylum Office Decision No. 26-1515/19 of 13 August 2020.

[4] BCHR, Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia – Periodic Report for July-September 2020, 22-23.

[5] See more in, BCHR, Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia 2021, 60.

[6] Administrative Court, Judgment U 13967/20, 13 November 2020.

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