The facts as submitted by the complainant
J.B. was born in 1990 in Bare Soltanpor, Nangarhar Province, in Afghanistan. After
secondary school, he studied information systems and mobile telephone technology in
Peshawar, Pakistan, and obtained several diplomas in that field. He then returned to
Afghanistan, where he worked in his father’s shop in Jalalabad for about two years.
Subsequently, he started work in a semi-governmental company, Etabad Technology, in
Kabul. In that company, he worked with several foreign organizations, including military
bases across the country, where he installed software operating systems. After he had begun
working for the company, the complainant and his family were approached by the Taliban,
who demanded that he collaborate with them since he had access to military sites. The
complainant and his family refused to collaborate with the Taliban and started to receive
death threats. Consequently, they fled to Jalalabad, then to Pakistan, but they did not feel
completely safe there owing to the sizeable presence of groups of Taliban. The complainant
subsequently fled to Europe.
The complainant entered Bulgaria, where he was detained for nine months in the
centre at Busmantsi. He claims that he was ill-treated during his detention: he was regularly
beaten by the guards, the hygiene conditions were inadequate and he was given very little
food. He was reluctant to apply for asylum in Bulgaria but did so on account of threats
made by the Bulgarian authorities. He was forced to sign several documents in Bulgarian
that he did not understand. After nine months in detention, he was suddenly released and
taken to Sofia. He left Bulgaria and arrived in Switzerland, where he applied for asylum on
7 August 2015.
On 12 October 2015, his asylum application was rejected by the State Secretariat for
Migration. The State Secretariat held that the complainant could be removed to Bulgaria, in
conformity with the Dublin Regulation, since Bulgaria was the country of first asylum. It
considered that, as Bulgaria was a party to the Convention relating to the Status of
Refugees, the complainant would not be at risk of a violation of the principle of nonrefoulement. Consequently, it did not examine the complainant’s claims concerning the
risks to which he would be exposed if returned to Afghanistan. As for the complainant’s
allegations regarding the ill-treatment he suffered in Bulgaria, it considered that the
measures taken by a State to control immigration did not constitute a violation of article 3
(on torture and ill-treatment) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, that Bulgaria was a State that respected the rule of law
and the European Union directives on the processing of asylum applications and asylum
seekers, and that the complainant’s removal was therefore lawful.
The complainant appealed against the decision of the State Secretariat. On 29
October 2015, the Federal Administrative Court rejected the appeal on the grounds that it
was manifestly unfounded. The Court considered that, even if it was true that the
complainant had applied for asylum in Bulgaria in order to avoid being detained for 18
months, that did not change the fact that he had sought asylum there and that his digital
fingerprints were registered in the Bulgarian system. Consequently, Bulgaria must decide
on the asylum application. Concerning the complainant’s allegations of systemic failings in
the Bulgarian reception system for asylum seekers, the Court considered that Bulgaria
could be presumed to respect its obligations under international treaties, including the
Convention against Torture and the relevant European directives, unless the complainant
was able to prove otherwise. Furthermore, it considered that there was no objective
justification for the complainant’s fear of being returned to Afghanistan.
The complainant maintains that his removal to Bulgaria would constitute a violation
of his rights under articles 3 and 16 of the Convention.