Accelerated procedure

Bulgaria

Author

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedures, time limits)

The accelerated procedure is designed to examine the credibility of the asylum application, but also the likelihood of the application being fraudulent or manifestly unfounded.1 The asylum application can also be found manifestly unfounded if the applicant did not state any reasons for applying for asylum related to grounds of persecution at all, or, if their statements were unspecified, implausible or highly unlikely.  All grounds are applied in practice.

In accordance with the transposition of Article 31(8) of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive, the asylum application can be found manifestly unfounded, if:

  1. The applicant raised issues that are not relevant to the examination of whether he or she qualifies as a beneficiary of international protection;2
  2. The applicant has made clearly inconsistent and contradictory, clearly false or obviously improbable representations which contradict country-of-origin information, thus making his or her claim clearly unconvincing;3
  3. The applicant has misled the authorities by presenting false information or documents or by withholding relevant information or documents or destroying documents with respect to his or her identity and/or nationality;4
  4. The applicant refuses to comply with an obligation to have his or her fingerprints taken;5
  5. The applicant entered or resides the territory or stays lawfully and, without good reason, has not presented himself or herself within a reasonable time to the authorities to submit an application for international protection;6
  6. The applicant entered the territory or stays unlawfully and, without good reason, has not presented himself or herself immediately to the authorities to submit an application for international protection as soon as possible;7
  7. The applicant arrives from a safe country of origin;8 or
  8. The applicant is making an application merely in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of an earlier or imminent decision which would result in his or her removal.9

The authority responsible for taking decisions at first instance on asylum applications in the accelerated procedure is the SAR, through caseworkers specially appointed for taking decisions in this procedure. Before 2015, all asylum applications were channelled first through the accelerated procedure as a mandatory phase of the status determination, except the explicitly exempted claims of unaccompanied children.10 After the 2015 reforms of the LAR, the accelerated procedure is now considered as a non-mandatory phase of the status determination, applied only by a decision of the respective caseworker, if and when information or indications are available to consider the asylum application as manifestly unfounded.11

This decision should be taken within 10 working days from applicants’ formal registration by the SAR. If the decision is not taken within this deadline the application has to be examined fully following the rules and criteria of the Regular Procedure, with all respective safeguards and deadlines applied.

Before the amendments of 2015, the law required the State Agency for National Security (SANS) to provide an opinion as to whether the person concerned constitutes a threat to national security in every asylum application. If an opinion had not been provided, a decision could not be issued in the accelerated or in the regular procedure. Therefore, in practice the – previous – 3 days deadline of the accelerated procedure was rarely observed and the majority of the asylum applications were automatically transferred for determination in the regular procedure. Hence, in practice the accelerated procedure was applied only with regard to subsequent applications, where the opinion of the SANS has already been collected during the first examination of the claim.

Following communications from 2010 to 2014 by the BHC and similar recommendation in the EASO’s 2014 mission report on Bulgaria in the end of 2015,12 the law was finally amended in a way allowing to remove this procedural obstacle. The law now provides that, upon receiving the asylum application, caseworkers are obliged to request a written opinion from the SANS which, however, is to be taken into consideration if and when a decision on the substance of the claim is taken within the regular (“general”) procedure.13 The law explicitly provides that such an opinion should not be requested in accelerated procedures.

 

Personal interview

The questions asked during interviews in the accelerated procedure aim at establishing facts relating to the individual story of the applicant, although in less detail in comparison with the interviews conducted within the regular procedure. Facts such as travel routes, identity and nationality are in principle exhaustively addressed prior to the accelerated procedure at the stages of registration and/or the Dublin procedure.

 

Appeal

Appeals in the accelerated procedure have to be submitted within 7 calendar days (excluding public holidays) after notification of the negative decision, as opposed to the 14-calendar-day deadline in the Regular Procedure: Appeal.  Another major difference with the regular asylum procedure is related to the number of judicial appeal instances. In the accelerated procedure, there is only one judicial appeal possible, whereas in the regular procedure there are two appeal instances.

Lodging an appeal has automatic suspensive effect vis-à-vis the removal of the asylum seeker. The court competent to review first instance decisions in the accelerated procedure is the Regional Administrative Court of the county in which the appellant resides. The court has the obligation to ascertain whether the assessment of the credibility or the manifestly unfounded character of the claim is correct in view of the facts, evidence and legal provisions applicable. Asylum seekers have to be summoned for a public hearing and in practice are asked to shortly summarise their reasons for fleeing their country of origin and seek protection elsewhere.

In general, asylum seekers do not face significant obstacles to lodging an appeal in the accelerated asylum procedure within the 7-day deadline. The obstacles referred to under the regular procedure appeal apply. 

 

Legal assistance

 The same rules and guarantees apply as in the Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance

  • 1. Article 13(1)(1)-(4) and 13(1)(6)-(14) LAR.
  • 2. Article 13(1)(1)-(2) LAR.
  • 3. Article 13(1)(3)-(4) LAR.
  • 4. Article 13(1)(6)-(9) LAR.
  • 5. Article 13(1)(10) LAR.
  • 6. Article 13(1)(11) LAR.
  • 7. Article 13(1)(12) LAR.
  • 8. Article 13(1)(13) LAR.
  • 9. Article 13(1)(14) LAR.
  • 10. Article 71(1) LAR.
  • 11. Article 70(1) LAR.
  • 12. EASO, Stock taking report on the asylum situation in Bulgaria, March 2014, 3.2. Asylum Determination Procedure.
  • 13. Article 58(9) LAR.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti