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BG: The Supreme Administrative Court finds procedural irregularities due to lack of legal aid and social assistance when interviewing minors

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Referral to the CJEU
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Relevant Legislative Provisions
National law only (in case there is no reference to EU law/ECHR);
Bulgaria, Supreme Administrative Court [Върховен административен съд], F. Hadjiabdulhalek, M. Saidabdullah and Z. Saidabdullah. v Chairman of the Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees (BG, Predsedatel na Darzhavna agentsia za bezhantsite), case no. 8941/2019 , 27 January 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EUAA Case Law Database.
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Case history
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The State Agency for Refugees rejected the international protection application and humanitarian protection for applicants F. Hadjiabdulhalek and her children M. Saidabdullah and Z. Saidabdullah. They submitted an appeal before the Administrative Court of Sofia which admitted it on grounds of violation of Article 15(6) and (8) of the Child Protection Act. According to Article 15 of the Child Protection Act, an administrative body or a court has the obligation to notify the Social Assistance Directorate at the child’s current address and the Directorate has to appoint a representative to give an opinion on the case or to provide a report. In the present case, the mandatory notification was not sent to the Social Assistance Directorate prior to the first interview and the social worker did not participate in the second interview. Social reports were submitted after the interview and no considerations were made by the determining authority as to the best interest of the child as introduced by Article 6a of the Law on Asylum and Refugees. Additionally, no legal aid was provided during the interview before SAR, thus violating Article 15 (8) of the Child Protection Act.  

The Administrative Court of Sofia annulled the SAR decision and referred the case back for re-examination. The Administrative Court of Sofia took also into consideration the fact that SAR based its negative decision solely on F. Hadjiabdulhalek’s refugee history and no assessment and no examination was made by SAR with regard to the application in respect of the two minors, where the mother acted as legal representative.

The Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the SAR’s appeal and upheld the decision of the Administrative Court of Sofia.

Country of Decision
Court Name
BG: Supreme Administrative Court [Върховен административен съд]
Case Number
case no. 8941/2019
Date of Decision
Country of Origin
Access to procedures
Assessment of Application
Asylum Procedures/Special Procedures
First Instance determination
Legal Aid/Legal assistance/representation
Personal Interview/ Oral hearing
Second Instance determination