In April 2022, Foundation for Access to Rights – FAR started legal proceedings for protection of the right of Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in Bulgaria by filing court cases against common administrative acts of the Council of Ministers (CM) and the Charmain of the State Agency for Refugees, and against individual administrative acts for procedural cessation of international protection for Ukrainian nationals.
The 29th of July 2022 marked the first strategic success in the Court battle for Ukrainian refugees to have access to international protection in Bulgaria achieved by the Administrative Court in Varna’s definitive judgement. With it, for the first time, the Court holds that “cessation of proceedings for provision of international protection due to the introduction of temporary protection lies contrary to Directive 2001/55/EC. Pursuant to Article 3, point 1 from the Directive, temporary protection regime is not in reference to a preliminary ruling in terms of granting refugee status under the Geneva Convention. Pursuant to Article 17, point 1, persons under temporary protection should be able to, at any given moment, lodge an asylum claim. Consequently, considering the above, there is a lack of judicial reasoning for cessation of the administrative proceedings.”
Two additional definitive judgement followed – one from the 9th of September 2022 and another from the 29 of September 2022 by the Administrative Court of Sofia-city (ACSC). According to those, decisions made by the vice-president of State Agency for Refugees at the Council of Ministers for cessation of proceedings for granting international protection to Ukrainian nationals are revoked. ACSC point out in the judgment reasonings that proceedings already initiated can be ceased only if they fall under one of the several detailed hypotheses for cessation set forth in Article 15 of the Law on Asylum and Refugees (LAR). The Court states that the provision of Article 68 (1), point 2 LAR, cited as a legal basis for publishing the examined court decisions, does not allow for already initiated proceedings for the examination of an application for international protection to be terminated. ACSC also refers to the provision in Article 58, point 7 from LAR as a reference, which expressly provides for the right of the foreigner under temporary protection to apply for international protection.
In connection to our appellative actions against the common administrative acts of the Council of Ministers and the Chairman of SAR, we humbly remind you that we won at first instance the case against Ruling 180 from the 30th of March 2022 of the Council of Ministers. We now expect the Court to pronounce judgement for the other cases scheduled for hearing. You can find detailed information regarding the developments in the cases here.