Countries may revoke the refugee status of migrants accused of supporting terrorism, the EU's top court has ruled. A Turkish man had brought the suit after Germany accused him of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
In its decision on Wednesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU countries could, on a case-by-case basis and under certain circumstances, revoke the asylum status of migrants accused of supporting alleged terror groups. The Luxembourg-based ECJ also ruled, however, that people had the right to appeal should countries revoke their asylum.
The ECJ cited the Geneva Convention on refugees, which states: "No contracting state shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."
"T.," a Turkish man of Kurdish descent who has lived in Germany since 1989, appealed to the ECJ after authorities in the state of Baden-Württemberg stripped him of his refugee status in 2012. Authorities alleged that he had supported the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) until 2011. Germany has banned support for the nominally Marxist group since 1994, and the EU followed suit in 2002, though in a 2011 ruling that went ignored, the European Court of First Instance ordered the bloc to remove the PKK from its terror list on procedural grounds.
'Not necessarily' terrorism
Authorities accused T. of supporting the PKK - also considered a terror organization by Turkey, the Netherlands, Austria and a relative few other countries - by collecting money and distributing a party magazine. As the man's wife and eight children were allowed to remain in the country, the court suspended his expulsion, but dismissed an appeal by him.
"With regard to Mr. T.'s acts of support for the PKK, it is apparent from the case file that the refugee participated in legal meetings and manifestations such as the celebration of the Kurdish New Year and the collection of funds for that organization," the ECJ ruled on Wednesday. "The fact that he carried out such acts does not necessarily mean that he supported the legitimacy of terrorist activities. Even more so, acts of that nature do not constitute, in themselves, terrorist acts."
The court did not rule on T.'s status, but found that German authorities had deprived him of benefits before proving that he was a threat to the country.e European Union to the ECJ over road tolls for foreigners and slack airport security.
Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.
mkg/sms (AFP, dpa epd)