In a judgment of 29 November 2023, ref. IV SA/Wa 2209/23, the Provincial Administrative Court (Wojewódzki Sąd Administracyjny, hereinafter WSA) overturned the contested decision of the Refugee Board, holding that the second-instance authority had incorrectly conducted the proceedings in our client’s case. Mr F. and his family still have a chance to receive international protection in Poland.

Mr F., together with his wife and children, are citizens of Tajikistan and arrived in Poland in 2016. Since then, their first proceedings initiated as a result of their application for international protection have been pending. The case has already been considered by the WSA and the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA) in the past. The recently issued judgment is the third judgment of the WSA issued in the case.

In overturning the contested decision, the WSA found that it violated procedural law to an extent that could have affected the outcome of the case. The WSA emphasised that the Board had breached its obligation to clarify the facts thoroughly. The authority did not carry out all the actions that were necessary to settle the case and did not establish the factual state current as at the date of the decision, but relied on data from previous proceedings.

The Court also assessed the justification for the contested decision negatively, emphasising that it contained only a few general sentences referring directly to the migrant’s situation.  The content of the justification indicates that the authority did not fulfil the obligation to re-examine the case independently and comprehensively, which the WSA imposed on it in its previous judgment. The authority also failed to explain why it did not take into account the requests for evidence submitted by the migrant.

The Court also found that the fact that the authority had interviewed the applicant and his wife was not sufficient to conclude that the evidentiary procedure had been conducted in a proper manner, all the more so because during the interview the authority had not even attempted to clarify the inaccuracies on which it later relied when refusing international protection to the migrant.

The WSA stressed that in the course of proceedings for granting international protection, cooperation between the migrant and the authority is very important; the migrant should strive to make it easier for the authority to gather evidence and must take into account the fact that the lack of evidence may result in his application not being granted. In Mr F’s situation, the court found that the migrant had tried to present the evidence in his possession, but the authority had failed to assess it.

As the WSA also noted, the authority cannot claim that the migrant’s testimony is inconsistent and illogical without pointing to specific examples of those inconsistencies. It was also wrong to assess the situation in Tajikistan based on information that was not in the evidence.

The case is now referred back to the Refugee Board. The Court has obliged the authority to take into account all of its observations, supplement the evidence, assess the requests for evidence that Mr F. has made and correctly draw up the justification for the decision.

It is hoped that the Board’s renewed decision will grant Mr F. and his family international protection, particularly as he was affiliated with the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), and he and his wife experienced violence in their country of origin because of this.

The Association for Legal Intervention participated in the proceedings as a participant in its capacity as a party.