A Have a look at the Advocate Normal’s Opinion on Ladies Fleeing the Taliban – Cyber Information


Türkan Ertuna Lagrand (Assistant
Professor, Utrecht College College of Legislation) and Salvo Nicolosi (Senior Assistant
Professor, Utrecht College College of Legislation)

Photograph credit score: USAIDAfghanistan, through Wikimedia Commons

Can a girl be
acknowledged as a refugee, merely due to her gender? This has been one of many
most debated questions in
worldwide refugee regulation, which has not too long ago reached the Court docket of Justice
with two joined instances in AH
and FN
on which final 9 November 2023, Advocate Normal Richard de la Tour delivered
his Opinion.
These joined instances relate to a request for a preliminary ruling from the
Austrian Excessive Administrative Court docket. The referring choose was doubtful whether or not, in
gentle of Article 9 (1) (a) and (b) of the Qualification
Directive, it’s ample {that a} girl who’s affected, merely on the
foundation of her gender, by the buildup of government-imposed or supported
restrictive measures might be recognised as a refugee with out the necessity to assess
the girl’s particular person scenario.

Whereas awaiting the
ruling from the Court docket of Justice, it’s price underscoring the importance of
the Advocate Normal’s Opinion in gentle of three complementary dimensions, every
representing essential components throughout the Advocate Normal’s evaluation. These
dimensions confer with the character of persecution arising from discriminatory
measures; the difficulty of whether or not ladies might be acknowledged as constituting a
distinct social group; the necessity to conduct a person evaluation because the
foundational foundation for granting refugee standing.

By addressing these
three dimensions, this quick submit goals to flag the potential for the Court docket of
Justice to develop the scope of safety in Europe and contribute to the
progressive growth of worldwide refugee regulation.

discrimination in opposition to ladies

The reference from the Austrian Court docket is rooted within the rise of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2021, marked by the implementation of a set of discriminatory measures
particularly aimed toward ladies within the nation. Because the Austrian Excessive Administrative
Court docket in addition to
consultants of the United Nations have underscored, the Taliban has put in place measures severely
limiting civil and political rights. Such measures include stopping ladies
from travelling with out a male companion, obligating them to cowl their
our bodies; denying participation in political workplace and political decision-making
processes; denying ladies entry to authorized means to acquire safety from
gender-based and home violence; and lack of safety in opposition to compelled
marriages. Moreover, these measures have considerably curtailed social,
financial and cultural rights, corresponding to ladies’s proper to interact in gainful
employment, and girls’s entry to well being care, training and sports activities. On this
regard, it’s price stressing that Afghanistan is the one nation on the planet
the place ladies and younger ladies are forbidden from attending secondary college and
larger training establishments.

Admittedly, the buildup of those measures has led to a scenario that
the Advocate Normal thought of of ‘extreme, systematic and institutionalised
discrimination’ in opposition to ladies.

The idea of
‘discrimination’ is  of paramount
significance to find out the existence of persecution for the needs of
in search of recognition as a refugee. Nonetheless, not all discrimination quantities to
persecution. On this level,  Advocate
Normal’s Opinion is particularly illustrative because it, in gentle of the UNHCR
Handbook, clarifies that ‘a measure of discrimination will solely quantity to
persecution if it results in penalties of a considerably prejudicial nature
for the individual involved, corresponding to… entry to accessible instructional amenities’.

The Advocate
Normal concluded that whereas some measures individually quantity to persecution
beneath Article 9 (1) (a) of the {Qualifications} Directive (which states that to
be thought of ‘persecution’, an act have to be ‘be sufficiently severe by its
nature or repetition as to represent a extreme violation of fundamental human
rights, particularly the rights’ which States can not derogate from beneath
Article 15(2) ECHR), others cumulatively meet the edge beneath Article 9 (1)
(b), attributable to systematic violations of human rights that are ‘sufficiently
extreme as to have an effect on a person’ in an identical method as talked about in Article
9 (1) (a).


Ladies as a selected
social group

these joined instances gave the Advocate Normal de la Tour a chance to reiterate
and finetune a line of argumentation that he adopted earlier this yr within the
case of WS.
On that event, the Advocate Normal argued that girls can represent a selected
social group ‘solely on account of their situation as ladies.’ They actually
share an innate and immutable attribute, due to which they’re seen
in another way by society, in response to their nation of origin, by purpose of the
social, authorized or non secular norms of that nation or the customs of the
group to which they belong (para 72). In the identical opinion, Advocate Normal
de la Tour convincingly rejected the tendency,  typically adopted by senior courts,
in response to which to make use of ladies qua ladies can not represent a related social group
owing to the scale of the group. Quite the opposite, de la Tour concluded that ‘the
idea of “distinct identification” of a bunch, in that it’s perceived in another way
by the encompassing society, can’t be interpreted as entailing a quantitative
evaluation.’ From this angle, the Advocate Normal echoed the place of
the UNHCR  reminding that different grounds
should not certain by the query of measurement and upheld the scholarly
view which have unearthed the fallacy of such an strategy.

Difficult the
particular person evaluation because the foundational foundation for refugee standing

Borrowing Hathaway
and Foster’s phrases ‘it’s now broadly understood that the place a girl has a well-founded
concern of being persecuted for causes of her gender,… refugee standing must be
acknowledged.’ Regardless of the equivocal phrases of the Qualification Directive
(Article 10), recognizing solely that ‘[g]ender associated points, together with gender
identification, shall be given due consideration for the needs of figuring out
membership of a selected social group or figuring out a attribute of such
a bunch,’ there may be nonetheless widespread recognition in Europe that girls
represent a social group for Conference functions. Because the scenario of girls
and ladies in Afghanistan has deteriorated quickly, Member State authorities went
even additional to acknowledge ladies as refugees solely on the premise of their gender
with out assessing on a case-by-case foundation whether or not there may be a person a threat
of persecution.

Whereas Austria was
the primary Member State to formally discover the opportunity of accepting
Afghan ladies as refugees with out a person evaluation, various different States
have acknowledged ladies from Afghanistan as refugees with out additional examination
as to the person scenario. Sweden introduced
in December 2022 that any Afghan girl asking for refugee standing might be
granted this standing. After firstly declaring to  proceed with a person examination of
feminine asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Denmark later
determined to carry a ‘relaxed evaluation of proof’ and as of 30 January 2023 all
ladies and ladies from Afghanistan have been granted asylum solely due to
their gender. Equally, the Finnish
Immigration Service has introduced in early 2023 that ‘all Afghan ladies and
ladies are granted refugee standing.’

Such a home follow
supplied the Advocate Normal the chance to clarify that this follow
falls throughout the margin of appreciation that’s left to the Member States by
Article 3 of the Qualification Directive to introduce or retain extra beneficial
requirements for figuring out who qualifies as a refugee, in as far as these
requirements are suitable with the Directive. On this regard, the Advocate
Normal additionally referred to the ruling in LW
e, in relation to which the Court docket- determined that such requirements might consist, inter
alia, in enjoyable the circumstances for granting refugee standing and mustn’t
prejudice to the overall scheme and targets of that Directive (paras 39-40).
Certainly, concurring with the Advocate Normal, asylum purposes submitted by
ladies and ladies from Afghanistan have particular traits that might enable
the competent authorities to deviate from the person evaluation technique, in
precept required by Article 4 (3) of the Qualification Directive. The
discriminatory measures to which Afghan ladies and ladies are uncovered are a part of
a regime of segregation and oppression imposed solely on account of the ladies’s
presence on the territory, no matter their identification or private
circumstances. Such a circumstance makes pointless to determine that the
applicant is focused due to distinctive traits aside from her

Apparently, regardless of
these readily obvious, goal circumstances within the nation of origin, the
Advocate Normal didn’t strategy the instances on the premise of prima facie
recognition of refugee standing, which as confirmed by the UNCHR, constitutes an
exception to the precept of particular person evaluation. As argued by Zieck, prima
facie recognition is in essence ‘a collective type of standing dedication that
presumes that every particular person member of a selected group qualifies for
refugee standing primarily based on goal info on the circumstances inflicting
flight.’ Whereas notably suited to scenario of enormous scale arrivals of
refugees, prima facie recognition can also be applicable in relation to teams
of equally located people whose arrival just isn’t on a big scale.
Nonetheless, because the authorized foundations and contours of this follow stays nonetheless opaque, the Advocate Normal
may need chosen to restrict his argumentation throughout the particular options of
EU asylum regulation, notably Article 4 of the Qualification Directive. This was a
cheap but in addition notably related selection because it clarifies to what extent
EU asylum regulation permits a departure from a person evaluation, thereby providing
a beneficial standpoint to the Court docket to proceed in the identical course.


To conclude, the Joined
Instances in AH and FN bear vital relevance, notably within the close to time period
for Member States which have already adjusted their asylum insurance policies regarding
Afghan ladies, and, prospectively, for these Member States poised to emulate
such modifications, following an anticipated beneficial ruling by the Court docket. If
the Court docket have been to undertake the analytical framework proposed by Advocate Normal
de la Tour, this is able to, due to this fact, contribute to aligning the EU’s stance with
that of the UNHCR, the Human Rights Council, thereby considerably contributing
to the development of worldwide refugee regulation.


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