Upper Tribunal judgment on lawfulness of removals to Italy under the Dublin Regulations
Date posted: 4 December 2018
Judgment was handed down today by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in a judicial review case considering the lawfulness of removing asylum seekers to Italy under the Dublin Regulations.
The Applicants’ case was that they would face a real risk of being homeless and destitute in Italy, and that the physical and mental suffering they would endure as a result would give rise to inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judicial review applications of two of the three Applicants were allowed, with the Tribunal finding their Article 3 claims to be arguable, in light of their vulnerabilities.
The Tribunal placed significant weight on recommendations made by the UNHCR to the Home Office in respect of the return of vulnerable individuals to Italy, and found that the UNHCR’s recommendations reflected general concerns, supported by the evidence considered by the Tribunal, about the capacity of the Italian asylum system to provide adequate safeguards for particularly vulnerable people. The Tribunal concluded that the UK authorities would need to seek an assurance from the Italian authorities that support and accommodation is in place before returning a particularly vulnerable person to Italy. This applies to a person who would be treated as an asylum seeker in Italy and to a person who has been granted refugee status or another form of status in Italy.
This judgment will assist many vulnerable individuals, some of whom have suffered years of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in their countries of origin, and on their journeys to the UK. Many of our clients facing removal to Italy left their countries of origin years ago, in search of a place of safety, only to suffer further ill-treatment during their journeys, including in Libya and in Italy. We represent clients who were homeless and destitute in Italy for months and even years, with no prospect of their situations improving. The judgment of the Upper Tribunal will now ensure that such vulnerable individuals will not be removed to Italy unless suitable accommodation within the Italian reception system is put in place in advance.
The hearing took place over three days in May 2018, prior to the formation of the current government in Italy. The evidence considered by the Tribunal therefore pre-dates the changes brought about by the current Italian government to the asylum and reception system since May 2018, and the increase in overt hostility towards asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants in Italy in recent months.
Two of the Applicants were represented by Wilson Solicitors LLP. Aisling Ní Chuinn acted for SOM and Giulia Tranchina for RK. Counsel instructed were Victoria Laughton of 1 Pump Court Chambers for SOM and David Chirico of 1 Pump Court Chambers for RK.
Another co-Applicant, SM, was represented by Aleksandra Stankiewicz of Duncan Lewis, with Greg Ó Ceallaigh of Garden Court Chambers as counsel.