Ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court: the Migration Department unreasonably failed to assess the circumstances presented by the applicant and failed to comply with the rules ensuring the objective reasonableness of the decision

September 13, 2023

On August 23, 2023 The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ruled to annul the letter of the Migration Department and ordered the Migration Department to re-examine the applicant’s application. The Court found that the Migration Department had not complied with the rules which should have ensured an objective assessment of all the circumstances and the validity of the decision.

The applicant arrived in Lithuania in July 2, 2022 and submitted an asylum application, which the Migration Department examined as a matter of urgency and decided not to grant him asylum and to expel him to the Republic of Cameroon.

Following a change in the circumstances set out in the Migration Department’s decision, the applicant submitted a request to the Department to reconsider the decision to expel him and to refuse entry. The changed circumstances were the person’s closer ties with the Republic of Lithuania, working and paying taxes, renting a house, learning Lithuanian, and engaging in various social activities. The Department refused, stating that the decision had become final and that the State Border Guard Service had been entrusted with its execution, and that there was therefore no reason to annul the decision. The applicant brought an action to the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court against the Department’s refusal to reconsider the decision to expel him and to ban his entry.

According to the applicant, the Migration Department did not take into account the applicant’s strong economic and social ties with Lithuania – the applicant earns a legitimate income, pays taxes, rents a home, and studies Lithuanian. The Board of Judges noted that the Migration Department did not provide clear arguments as to why the above-mentioned circumstances do not constitute grounds for annulment or amendment of the decision. It should be noted that in the contested Letter the Migration Department did not examine the arguments raised by the applicant in the application concerning the fact that the decision to expel him had not been implemented for one and a half years. In adopting the contested Letter, the Migration Department did not assess the newly-arising circumstances referred to by the applicant in relation to his expulsion and the entry ban, but only formally stated that the Decision was final, the execution of which had been entrusted to the VSAT and therefore had to be enforced.

The Court noted that, in accordance with the principle of good administration, the public authorities must conduct the procedure impartially and objectively and clarify all the circumstances relevant to the issue. In the assessment of the Board of Judges, the Migration Department has only formally assessed the applicant’s Application, failed to assess the individual situation of the foreigner, and failed to provide clear arguments as to why the new circumstances do not constitute grounds for lifting the entry ban or the applicant’s expulsion. In the assessment of the Board of Judges, the refusal to assess the arguments put forward in the applicant’s Application constitutes a fundamental procedural irregularity and the Letter should therefore be annulled.

The case was initiated by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute together with the law firm ReLex as one of the strategic cases aiming at the judicial assessment of the fundamental flaws in the application of the law in the Lithuanian migration and asylum system and the correction of the flawed practice of the institutions. The case is part of the project “Crossing the border: monitoring and advocating for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers”, supported by the Active Citizens Foundation.

Download the anonymised decision.