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To exclude or not to exclude, that is the question. Developments regarding bases for exclusion from refugee status in the EU

  • Janja Simentić
Abstract

In this Article, the author presents and explains the current normative framework in EU law about the exclusion from refugee status based on the premise that a person is not deserving of refugee status. This article is directed at clarifying the present content of the legislation in force and the caselaw of the Court of Justice of the European Union that further elaborates on this issue. The Commission’s recent proposal for new legislation is also scrutinized, in order to present a possible evolution of the exclusion provision.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Janja Simentić is a Teaching Assistant and PhD student at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Political Science. Email: janja.simentic@fpn.bg.ac.rs.

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1 See Council Directive 2004/83/EC of April 29, 2004 On Minimum Standards for the Qualification and Status of Third Country Nationals or Stateless Persons as Refugees or as Persons Who Otherwise Need International Protection and the Content of the Protection Granted, 2004 O.J. (L 304) 12 (EC) [hereinafter Former Qualification Directive]; see also Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 On Standards for the Qualification of Third-Country Nationals or Stateless Persons as Beneficiaries of International Protection, for a Uniform Status for Refugees or for Persons Eligible for Subsidiary Protection, and for the Content of the Protection Granted (Recast), 2011 O.J. (L 337) 9 (EU) [hereinafter Qualification Directive].

2 See Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees art. 1(F), Jul. 28, 1951, 189 U.N.T.S. 137 [hereinafter Refugee Convention], https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1954/04/19540422%2000-23%20AM/Ch_V_2p.pdf; see also Qualification Directive, supra note 1, art. 12(2).

3 See Refugee Convention, supra note 2, arts. 1(D), (E); see also Qualification Directive, supra note 1, art. 12(1).

4 Joined Cases C-57/09 & C-101/09, Bundesrepublik Deutschland v. B & D, 2010 E.C.R. I-10979, para. 72, [hereinafter B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09], https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A62009CJ0057.

5 Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Standards for the Qualification of Third-Country Nationals or Stateless Persons as Beneficiaries of International Protection, for a Uniform Status for Refugees or for Persons Eligible for Subsidiary Protection and for the Content of the Protection Granted and Amending Council Directive 2003/109/EC of November 25, 2003 Concerning the Status of Third-Country Nationals Who are Long-Term Residents, COM (2016) 466 final (Jul. 13, 2016) [hereinafter Proposal for Qualification Directive] https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/6d976705-4a95-11e6-9c64-01aa75ed71a1.

6 See Refugee Convention, supra note 2, art. 1(F). The Refugee Convention was also drafted in order to deal with the displacement of people as a result of Second World War. It did not contain the express reference to this purpose, however, apart from the geographical and temporal limitation that were later repealed by the adoption of 1976 Protocol.

7 James C. Hathaway & Colin J. Harvey, Framing Refugee Protection in the New World Disorder, 34 CORNELL INT’L L.J. 257, 263 (2001).

8 See Gina Clayton, Immigration and Asylum Law 510–22 (5th ed. 2012) (discussing relevant case law).

9 Case C573/14, Commissaire Général aux Réfugiés et aux Apatrides v. Lounani, para. 41 (Jan. 31, 2017) [hereinafter Lounani], http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?num=C-573/14.

10 See Proposal for a Council Directive on Minimum Standards for the Qualification and Status of Third Country Nationals and Stateless Persons as Refugees or as Persons Who Otherwise Need International Protection, COM (2001) 510 final (Oct. 30, 2001) [hereinafter Minimum Standards Proposal] (setting a relevant scope for this issue).

11 Grounds for exclusion shall be based solely on the personal and knowing conduct of the person concerned.

12 See Minimum Standards Proposal, supra note 10, art. 14.

13 See Elspeth Guild & Madeline Garlick, Refugee Protection, Counter-Terrorism, and Exclusion in the European Union, 29 Refugee Surv. Q. 63, 74–75 (2011) (describing the general political climate in the time of adopting QD).

14 Former Qualification Directive, supra note 1, art. 12.

15 Qualification Directive, supra note 1, art. 12(2)(b).

16 Id.

17 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Annotated Comments on the EC Council Directive 2004/83/EC of April 29, 2004 on Minimum Standards for the Qualification and Status of Third Country Nationals or Stateless Persons as Refugees or as Persons Who Otherwise Need International Protection and the Content of the Protection Granted (OJ L 304/12 of 30.9.2004), 27 (Jan. 2005) [hereinafter Annotated Comments], https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/protection/operations/43661eee2/unhcr-annotated-comments-ec-council-directive-200483ec-29-april-2004-minimum.html.

18 See Francesco Cherubini, Asylum Law in the European Union 214–15 (2015).

19 Qualification Directive, supra note 1, art. 12(3).

20 Qualification Direction, supra note 1, at art. 14(5).

21 See Guild & Garlick, supra note 13, at 73; see also Cherubini, supra note 18, at 217; Ben Saul, Exclusion of Suspected Terrorists from Asylum: Trends in International and European Refugee Law, IIIS Discussion Paper No. 26, at 5 (2004).

22 See Case C-77/17, Walkner v. Aviation Passage Service Berlin GmbH & Co. KG, http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&td=ALL&num=C-77/17; see also Case C-78/17, X v. Commissaire Général aux Réfugiés et aux Apatrides, http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&td=ALL&num=C-78/17.

23 Annotated Comments, supra note 17, at 31.

24 See U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Note on Determination of Refugee Status Under International Instruments, para. 5, EC/SCP/5 (Aug. 24, 1977) [hereinafter UNHCR Note on Determination].

25 Hemme Battjes, European Asylum Law and International Law 456 (2006).

26 See Former Qualification Directive, supra note 1, at recital 14 (“The recognition of refugee status is a declaratory act.”).

27 Note on Determination, supra note 24, at para. 4 (citation omitted).

28 See Battjes, supra note 25, at 455.

29 Id. at 463

It appears, that Article 32 applies only to recognised refugees, and Article 33 to unrecognised refugees as well. Hence, we cannot decide that status determination is in general declaratory or constitutivist in nature. Rather, we will have to sort out for each Convention benefit separately which of the two views applies.

30 See Geoff Gilbert, Current Issues in the Application of the Exclusion Clauses, in Refugee Protection in International Law 464–66 (Erika Feller et al. eds., 2003) (demonstrating a difference in practice); see also David Kosar, Inclusion Before Exclusion or Vice Versa: What the Qualification Directive and the Court of Justice Do (Not) Say, 25 Int’l J. Refugee L. 87 (2013) (debating the “exclusion before inclusion” or vice versa); Clayton, supra note 8, at 511–12 (explaining the practice in the UK).

31 Hathaway & Harvey, supra note 7, at 260 (pointing out that by relying on bases from Article 33(2) while applying the less strict procedure for exclusion from Article 1(F), the states get “best of both worlds”).

32 See B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 100.

33 Id. at para. 104.

34 Saul, supra note 21, at 5.

35 Guy S. Goodwin-Gill & Jane Mcadam, The Refugee in International Law 244 (3rd ed. 2007).

36 Annotated Comments, supra note 17, at 28

Cessation refers to the ending of refugee status pursuant to Article 1C of the 1951 Convention because international refugee protection is no longer necessary or justified. Cancellation means a decision to invalidate a refugee status recognition, which is appropriate where it is subsequently established that the individual should never have been recognized, including in cases where he or she should have been excluded from international refugee protection. Revocation refers to the withdrawal of refugee status in situations where a person properly determined to be a refugee engages in conduct which comes within the scope of Article 1F(a) or (c) of the 1951 Convention after recognition.

37 See U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Guidelines on International Protection: Application of the Exclusion Clauses: Article 1F of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, para. 4, HCR/GIP/03/05 (Sept. 4, 2003) [hereinafter UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection], https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/publications/legal/3f7d48514/guidelines-international-protection-5-application-exclusion-clauses-article.html; see also Hélène Lambert, The EU Asylum Qualification Directive, Its Impact on the Jurisprudence of the United Kingdom and International Law, 55 Int’l & Comp. L.Q. 161, 178 (2006).

38 See United Kingdom: Home Office, Exclusion (Article 1f) and Article 33(2) of the Refugee Convention (Jul. 5, 2016), https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/534985/exclusion_and_article_33_2__refugee_convention.pdf.

39 B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 81.

40 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Statement on Article 1F of the 1951 Convention Issued in the Context of the Preliminary Ruling References to the Court of Justice of the European Communities from the German Federal Administrative Court Regarding the Interpretation of Articles 12(2)(b) and (c) of the Qualification Directive, at 12 (2009) [hereinafter UNHCR Statement on Article 1F], https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/4a5edac09.pdf.

41 Clayton, supra note 8, at 515–18, (featuring case law regarding this notion).

42 B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 108.

43 Id. at para. 109.

44 UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection, supra note 37, at para. 24; UNHCR Statement on Article 1F, supra note 40, at 10–11.

45 UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection, supra note 37, at para. 24.

46 See Sandesh Sivakumaran, Exclusion from Refugee Status: The Purposes and Principles of the United Nations and Article 1F(c) of the Refugee Convention, 26 Int’l J. of Refugee L. 350, 356–61 (2014) (featuring a more in-depth analysis of this issue).

47 B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 88.

48 Id. at paras. 92, 93.

49 Id. at para. 95.

50 Id. at paras. 45–47.

51 Lounani, Case C573/14 at para. 72.

52 B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 98.

53 Lounani, Case C573/14 at para. 68.

54 Id. at para. 77.

55 Case C472/13, Shepherd v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Feb. 26, 2015), http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&jur=C,T,F&num=c-472/13.

56 Opinion of Advocate General Sharpston at para. 36, Case C472/13, Shepherd v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Nov. 11, 2014), http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=159445&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2950180.

57 Id. at para. 66.

58 Shepherd, Case C472/13 at para. 38.

59 Opinion of Advocate General Sharpston at paras. 81–82, Case C573/14, Commissaire Général aux Réfugiés et aux Apatrides v. Lounani (May 31, 2016), http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=179041&pageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2951730.

60 UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection, supra note 37, at para. 35.

61 U.N. High Comm’r for Refugees, Background Note on the Application of the Exclusion Clauses: Article 1F of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, para. 107 (Sept. 4, 2003), https://www.refworld.org/docid/3f5857d24.html.

62 See European Asylum Support Office, Exclusion: Articles 12 and 17 Qualification Directive (2011/95/eu), A Judicial Analysis, at 41 (Jan. 2016) (citing Jean-Yves Carlier & Pierre d’Huart, L’Exclusion du Statut de Réfugié: Cadre General, in Asile et Extradition: Théorie et Pratique de L’Exclusion du Statut de Réfugié 3, 7–9 (Vincent Chetail & Caroline Laly-Chevalier eds., 2014), https://www.easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/public/Exclusion%20Final%20Print%20Version.pdf; see also Goodwin-Gill & mcadam, supra note 35, at 165.

63 Al-Sirri v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] UKSC 54, [75].

64 Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in one of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person (Recast), COM (2016) 270 final (May 4, 2016), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0270&from=EN.

65 Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Establishment of “Eurodac” for the Comparison of Fingerprints for the Effective Application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 Establishing the Criteria and Mechanisms for Determining the Member State Responsible for Examining an Application for International Protection Lodged in One of the Member States by a Third-Country National or a Stateless Person], for Identifying an Illegally Staying Third-Country National or Stateless Person and on Requests for the Comparison with Eurodac Data by Member States’ Law Enforcement Authorities and Europol for Law Enforcement Purposes (Recast), COM(2016) 272 final (May 4, 2016), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52016PC0272&from=EN.

66 Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Asylum and Repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010, COM(2016) 271 final (May 4, 2016), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:ce773c1e-1689-11e6-ba9a-01aa75ed71a1.0001.02/DOC_1&format=PDF.

67 Proposal for Qualification Regulation, supra note 5, at 7.

68 Id. at 37.

69 See B and D, Cases C-57/09 and C-101/09 at para. 81 (regarding terrorist acts); id. at paras. 106–11 (regarding proportionality).

70 Proposal for Qualification Regulation, supra note 5, at 13.

71 Id. at 38.

72 Id. at 44.

* Janja Simentić is a Teaching Assistant and PhD student at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Political Science. Email: .

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