The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg issued a multilateral ruling stating that Croatia is responsible for considering requests for international protection of people who “massively crossed its border during the migration crisis 2015-2016.” According to the data of the Croatian Ministry of Interior Affairs, during 2016, 637 people have already been returned by the Dublin Regulation, and in the first three months of this year another 90, mostly from Austria and Germany.
The Court stated that crossing borders in above mentioned period of time was illegal and according to the Dublin Regulation, Croatia is a responsible as a country of first entry at the territory of the EU. That is why, the Court stated, the returns from Austria and Slovenia are lawful. Unfortunately, the Court missed the opportunity to discuss the destructivness and inadequacy of the Dublin Regulation, and the burden of responsibility placed on states at the EU’s external border. In addition, contrary to the opinion of the independent state prosecutor of that court, the Court does not consider that a large number of arrivals from September 2015 to March 2016 should be considered as a special situation in which the Dublin Regulation does not apply.
In other words Croatia should have decided between not allowing people to cross its borders and expose them to inhuman or degrading treatment and endless waiting at the border, in order to protect itself from “responsibility” or to act as it did in September 2015 and in agreement with other states on so-called Balkan route and the European Union, enable people to pass and reach the desired destinations. After such interpretation, one may wonder what are legitimate and legal ways for refugees to arrive to the territory of the European Union.
It is also interesting to see this play with the rule of law at EU level and competences that individual institutions and EU Member States have. During the entire period of arrival and passing of a large number of refugees, and then one and a half years after the closing of the official Balkan route, the rules are constantly changing and the uncertainty and insecurity of those seeking protection is further deepened and extended. Often in these circumstances it happens that the only constant thing is that the rules are constantly changing and for this reason the activists of the Welcome Initiative! weren’t able to provide legal aid.
Unfortunately, this verdict has failed to address all these difficulties and confirmed that the EU is not focused on the protection of the refugee’s rights to access the territory, but rather on the protection of the territory. Neglecting the context in which such passing of people happened and having a perception that Dublin Regulation is an adequate tool for such exceptional situations has significant repercussions on the further development of asylum systems and the equitable distribution of responsibilities between Member States.
Currently, more than 570 people in Croatia are in the process of seeking international protection, and many of them, previously returned mostly from Austria, are eagerly awaiting the decision of the European Court of Justice. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has recently said that many requests came at the same time, but that everything is within legal deadlines – although many claimants claim it is not always the case. Given that the demands, after a long period of uncertainty and waiting, have often been rejected, according to the Jesuit Refugee Service, in the last three weeks at least 80 people left Porin. Among the people in the Reception Center Porin, there is more and more hopelessness, and part of the seeker sought the help of a psychiatrist, and several people unfortunately tried to end their own life.
There is an open public consultation on the Law on International and Temporary Protection, as it is necessary to amend or supplement the provisions of the applicable law to ensure the applicability of the provisions on the right to housing asylum seekers and foreigners under subsidiary protection in practice and more rational use of available housing units.
And if you are interested in what did Good Hosts do during Tabor Film Festival (the campaign was launched by the band Kries, Are You Syrious, the Solidarity Foundation, the Coalition of Solidarity Split and Welcome Initiative!), you can find out here.