Compulsory, indefinite placement of migrants in the transit zones qualifies as detention and is unlawful.
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The recast “Asylum Procedures Directive” is a recast of a previous Directive (Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005), with implementation deadline of 20 July 2015. The Directive sets up common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (refugee status and the protection given to people who are not refugees but who would risk serious harm if returned to their country of origin). The Directive enshrines the presumption of minority and further provides requirements on how age assessment should be carried out (art. 25).
The CJEU found that the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Members States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals must be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation which provides for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed on an illegally staying third-country national on the sole ground that they remain, without valid grounds, on the territory of that State, contrary to an order to leave that territory within a given period.
The CJEU said that immigration related detention is justified only in order to prepare the return or carry out the removal process and if the application of less coercive measures would not be sufficient. Only the judicial authority should deal with the decisions concerning the detention of a third-country national (for example an extension) and it should do so following a thorough assessment of all relevant facts and circumstances in the individual case.
The Court recalled that it is a fundamental principle that no detention which is arbitrary can be compatible with Article 5 § 1 ECHR and the notion of ‘arbitrariness’ in Article 5 § 1 extends beyond lack of conformity with national law, so that a deprivation of liberty may be lawful in terms of domestic law but still arbitrary and thus contrary to the Convention. To avoid being branded as arbitrary, therefore, detention under Article 5 § 1 (f) must be carried out in good faith; it must be closely connected to the purpose of preventing unauthorised entry of the person to the country; the place and conditions of detention should be appropriate; and the length of the detention should not exceed that reasonably required for the purpose pursued.
Directive 2008/115 and Directive 2013/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection must be interpreted as meaning that the obligation imposed on a third-country national to remain permanently in a transit zone the perimeter of which is restricted and closed, within which that national’s movements are limited and monitored, and which they cannot legally leave voluntarily, in any direction whatsoever, appears to be a deprivation of liberty, characterised by ‘detention’ within the meaning of those directives.