European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that the time limit for deportation within the EU during the pandemic was six months.
“If a European Union country cannot deport an asylum seeker to another EU member within six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic the current country of residence becomes responsible for the case,’’ the court ruled.
In the EU, the country where an asylum seeker first enters the bloc was in charge of processing their application, however, some people travel on to other countries.
If a person cannot be transferred back to their country of first entry within six months, the country where the person was staying must take over the case.
The present ruling was however linked to cases in Germany in which three applicants were due to be transferred back to Italy for their asylum application to be processed there when the pandemic hit.
German authorities argued that they did not become responsible for the cases as the six-month time limit on deportations was paused.
They argued that this was due to the overall suspension of deportations between Germany and Italy during the pandemic.
The EU’s top court confirmed in its ruling that deportations within the EU must be carried out within six months, even in the event of travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wiebke Judith from the migration organization PRO ASYL in a statement “this is an important ruling for the protection of refugees in Europe as it gives legal certainty to those concerned.
’’ Judith added that the plaintiffs should now finally be given access to an asylum procedure in Germany.
In June 2020, more than 20,000 asylum seekers were informed by authorities that Germany had suspended the deadline for their transfers, of whom over 9,000 filed a complaint.