As of 10 October 2014 the French Council of State has withdrawn Kosovo from the national list of safe countries of origin. Asylum seekers from ‘safe countries’ have their applications examined in an accelerated procedure on the assumption that persecution is unlikely to occur in these countries.
The Council of State held that “this State, whose institutions are still largely dependent on the support of international organisations and missions, did not present the requirements necessary to justify its inclusion in the safe country of origin list at the time of the challenged decision, given the unstable political and social context specific to this country and the violence to which certain categories of the population remain subject to, with no guarantee of being able to find sufficient protection by public authorities.”
Kosovo was added to the list of Safe Countries of Origin by the Board of Directors of the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless (OFPRA) on 16 December 2013 together with Albania and Georgia. This decision was challenged by 13 organisations including ECRE members Forum refugiés-Cosi and France Terre d’Asile and the French ELENA network, on the ground that these States cannot sufficiently ensure the respect of the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, as well as human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Council of State considered that the inclusion of Albania and Georgia was lawful. The list now includes 16 States: Albania, Armenia, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana, Mauritius, India, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Senegal, Serbia and Tanzania.
Research conducted by ECRE in 15 European countries shows that EU Member States have divergent opinions as to which countries should be considered as safe countries of origin for the purpose of the examination of an asylum application. There is not a single country that is considered safe by all EU countries and appears on all the national lists.
For further information:
- Asylum Information Database, AIDA, The Safe Country Concepts in France, AIDA National Report on France, 4 May 2014
- ECRE Weekly Bulletin, Editorial, Safe countries of Origin: An inconvenient truth, 30 March 2012
This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 24 October 2014. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.