Safe Countries or Systematic Assessments? - A critical investigation of the safe country of origin concept in the CEAS and the national implementation in Sweden in relation to the right to asylum

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Juridiska fakulteten

Abstract: Safety has always been a prominent concept within asylum law for the assessment of international protection. However, as the CEAS has developed immensely the past years, moving towards a paradigm shift of increasingly restrictive migration policies; the use of safety has evolved accordingly. With the ‘safe country of origin’ (SCO) concept, the focus has shifted further towards the situation in the country rather than the individual merits. The concept allows for an accelerated procedure and is established in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive (recast APD), even if it has been a recognised practice since the 1990’s. In Sweden, the concept was implemented in 2021, allowing for the Swedish Migration Agency to subject nationals from a total of eight countries designated as safe in accordance with the recast APD to fast-track procedures. The binding obligation of art. 18 of the EU Charter and international human rights standards articulate obligations upon states to ensure fair and just individual assessments of each applicant’s case. Implementing fast-track procedures such as the SCO regulation, may weaken these obligations. The thesis’ purpose was to investigate how the implementation of the SCO regulations in Sweden may affect the right to asylum and international standards on human rights. The research has found issues with coherence between the new rules and fundamental norms incorporated in the right to asylum, with the increased risk of systematic decisions caused by basing the assessment mainly on nationality. Furthermore, the thesis focused on the contradictions within the recast APD and the supposed procedural safeguards. It found that the lessened procedural guarantees in the context of the SCO regulations appear as contradictory to the undertaken obligations considering the vulnerability of asylum seekers. Indicating how the concept is a mean for EU Member States such as Sweden, to decrease migration in a manner that risks the individual’s human rights guarantees and limits the access to asylum.

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