The latest AIDA Legal Briefing analyses European countries’ national legal frameworks and practice on the reduction and withdrawal of reception conditions of asylum seekers under the recast Reception Conditions Directive.
It identifies circumstances in which the intention to restrict the possibility of ‘abuse’ of the asylum system can take precedence over the need to ensure an “adequate” or “dignified” standard of living for all applicants throughout the status determination process. Trends have developed within national interpretations of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and domestic practices that utilise the reduction and withdrawal of reception conditions as a punitive measure, arguably beyond what is permitted under EU law. The withdrawal of reception conditions as punishment of violations of reception centre house rules remains a contested measure, and one that will likely be clarified by the Court of Justice of the European Union following a recent preliminary reference.
Moreover, the type of individual behaviour which leads to reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions is very inconsistent across national practice, as demonstrated for example by the ways in which the “abandonment” of a reception centre is defined, varying from an absence of two weeks in the Netherlands to mere return after curfew in Italy. As regards other grounds set out by the Directive, only nine countries reduce or withdraw conditions from subsequent applicants, while only three have transposed the possibility to reduce or withdraw conditions when applicants are deemed not to have sought asylum as soon as possible.
Finally, an assessment of the risk that individuals will face destitution should their reception conditions be reduced or withdrawn is not applied in practice across many national systems. The result is a situation in which reception conditions can be withdrawn arbitrarily or as a punitive measure, which in many cases may lead to asylum seekers facing destitution and unable to access the basic requirements that they need to live at subsistence level.
Photo:(CC) International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, August 2015