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FI: Supreme Administrative Court rules on condition for cessation of refugee status

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Other Source/Information:
Referral to the CJEU
Original Documents
Relevant Legislative Provisions
UN International Covenants ;
Finland, Supreme Administrative Court [Korkein hallinto-oikeus], A (Vietnam) v Finnish Immigration Service, ECLI:FI:KHO:2020:61, 29 May 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EUAA Case Law Database.
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Case history
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According to Yearbook decisions:

A Vietnamese national A had arrived in Finland as a quota refugee in 1990. It had been established that A had obtained a Vietnamese visa and travelled to Vietnam in 2015 to visit his sick father and from 11 to 27 September 2016 for his father's funeral. The Finnish Immigration Service (FIS) considered that A, in doing so, voluntarily relied on the protection of its country of nationality. In addition, based on the country data, the FIS considered that the personal and domestic general circumstances under which A had become a refugee had ceased to exist, and that the change in circumstances was significant and permanent. According to the FIS decision of the Finnish Immigration Service, there had been no compelling reasons why A could refuse to rely on Vietnamese protection. On these grounds, the FIS terminated A's refugee status.

The Administrative Court rejected A's appeal against the FIS decision and found that A, despite the opportunity reserved for him, had not explained why he still felt in need of international protection in relation to Vietnam. In addition, taking into account the country information on the general security situation in Vietnam, the long time since A has been a refugee and the fact that A had not been cleared that there had been any problems with obtaining a visa or travelling and staying in Vietnam, the Administrative Court considered that A was no longer at risk of being a danger of death in relation to his home country.

The Supreme Administrative Court found that Article 107 of the Aliens Act is based on Article 1(C) of the Refugee Convention. The application of this article therefore had to take into account the recommendations for interpretation of the UNHCR Handbook on the Refugee Convention. According to the Handbook, the list of grounds for the abolition of refugee status in Article 1(C) of the Refugee Convention was exhaustive and had to be interpreted narrowly.

Taking into account the above-mentioned legal instructions and recommendations for interpretation, the reasons for A's travels and the fact that A had not applied for a Vietnamese passport, but made his or her trip using the refugee's travel document and visa, the Supreme Administrative Court considered that A had not voluntarily resorted to the protection of his or her country of nationality on the grounds set out in the FIS decision.

The Supreme Administrative Court also ruled that when assessing the grounds for termination of refugee status, in addition to changes in the general circumstances of the state of nationality, account must be taken of the need for individual protection of the refugee. No explanation had been available on the grounds for the applicant’s admission as a refugee. The authority was primarily responsible for the investigation into whether the circumstances underlying the emergence of refugee status had ceased to exist and it had not been established that. The Supreme Administrative Court reasoned its judgement by reference to the CJEU case Aydin Salahadin Abdulla and Others v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Joined Cases C-175/08, C-176/08, C-178/08 and C-179/08).

The decisions of the Administrative Court and the Finnish Immigration Service were overturned.

Country of Decision
Court Name
FI: Supreme Administrative Court [Korkein hallinto-oikeus]
Case Number
Date of Decision
Country of Origin
Asylum Procedures/Special Procedures
Cessation of protection
Refugee Protection