EU court rules against Lithuanian law ordering detention of asylum seekers
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EU court rules against Lithuanian law ordering detention of asylum seekers

The Court of Justice of the European Union Thursday held that Lithuanian law ordering the automatic detention of asylum seekers was inconsistent with EU law.

According to article 140(1)(2) of the law regarding the legal status of foreigners in Lithuania, the state is allowed to detain illegal immigrants in case of a mass influx of foreigners, solely on grounds that they were staying illegally. This law was under judicial review by the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania for a preliminary ruling on the status of a detained asylum seeker. The detention was despite the fact that the asylum seeker had presented a valid passport, and their asylum application had been rejected on grounds that it had been submitted incorrectly. According to the Lithuanian prosecutor general, such an application may only be rejected where the asylum seeker has entered the country illegally.

On the issue of proportionality, the court found that in a mass influx situation:

the threat to national security or public order can justify the detention of an applicant only on condition that his individual behavior represents a real, present and sufficiently serious threat, affecting a fundamental interest of society or the internal or external security of the Member State concerned.

Given this piece of legislation was arguably in contrast with article 6 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (right to liberty and security), such a right should have been weighed against article 8(3) of Directive 2013/33.

Ultimately, the court found that this law was in breach of article 6.