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German court suspended handing over of foreigner to Poland

A German court ordered the temporary suspension of the procedure for handing over a foreigner seeking refugee status to Poland.

The surrender was planned to be carried out under the EU Dublin II Regulation, which provides that, as a rule, the Member State responsible for examining a refugee status application is a Member State in which a person seeking refugee status first lodged his or her application. As one of the grounds for its decision the court cited the need to examine whether the Polish refugee procedure does not violate article 3 ECHR or article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (prohibition of torture and slavery and forced labour).

The court based its decision largely on the report “Migration-is-not-a-crime” prepared by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Association for Legal Intervention in December 2012 as a follow-up to the monitoring of guarded centres for foreigners.

“The German court held that based on the report it may be concluded that safeguards provided under the Polish refugee law did not comply with the minimum European standards”, explains Karolina Rusiłowicz, co-author of the report. “The Court noted the detention conditions, and in particular severe regime, including personal searches, middle-of-the-night searches of prison cells, morning musters and the issues related to accommodation, social and medical care”, adds Ms Rusiłowicz.

Given the gravity of the accusations, the German court decided to temporarily suspend the procedure of handing over a foreigner to Poland, until the issues are properly investigated. Further inquiry aims, among other things, to review the accuracy of accusations, whereas the handing over of the foreigner to Poland would prevent him from fully participating in the proceedings.

“I hope that this decision, in which the German court presented its doubts concerning the compliance of Poland with the standards of protection of foreigners rights, will contribute to changes in foreign detention centres which we recommended in the report”, adds Ms Rusiłowicz.

HFHR lawyers actively collaborate with jurists from other EU Member States, providing information on the Polish law and practices applied to safeguard the rights of foreigners seeking refugee status in Poland.

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