First country of asylum


Country Report: First country of asylum Last updated: 23/03/21


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 he or she 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 his or her 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] 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] In other case of Burundian applicant, the Asylum Office informed BCHR on its inclination to apply the safe third country concept in relation Ruanda, but this decision was not rendered in 2020.[5] Another case concerns the client of APC whose asylum application was dismissed because he was granted UNHCR refugee mandate status in Turkey. All three instances took a stance that Turkey should be considered as a first country of asylum, even though the protection was granted by UNHCR.[6]


[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, p.22-23.

[5]           Ibid.

[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