CAT/C/62/D/721/2015

3.2
He states that he would not have access to asylum procedures in Bulgaria and that he
would therefore be subjected to refoulement to Afghanistan, where his life would be in
danger because of his problems with the Taliban.1
3.3
The complainant also alleges that he risks being subjected to ill-treatment or torture
if he is transferred to Bulgaria on account of the systemic failings of the country’s reception
system, particularly in the detention centres for clandestine migrants. 2 He asserts that,
owing to the ill-treatment he experienced while detained in Bulgaria, he is suffering from
severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.3
State party’s observations on the merits of the communication
4.1
On 17 June 2016, the State party submitted its observations on the merits of the
communication. The State party began by presenting a summary of the facts and general
information on relevant European and Swiss law. On 7 August 2015, the complainant
applied for asylum in Switzerland. At the hearing before the State Secretariat for Migration,
he stated that he was an Afghan national, had received schooling and vocational training in
Pakistan and had then returned to his country to work. In 2014, he reportedly left
Afghanistan because of problems with the Taliban. He came to Europe, travelling through
Bulgaria, among other countries, where he was arrested and placed in the Busmantsi
detention centre, remaining there in deplorable conditions of hygiene, health and nutrition.
Released nine months later, he was allegedly forced to provide his digital fingerprints and
to file an asylum application on 18 March 2015, before being transferred to an asylum
seekers�� centre in Sofia. Without waiting for the decision on his asylum application, he left
Bulgaria because, according to him, Afghans were generally not welcome there and could
not find work. He travelled through Hungary (where he filed asylum applications on 6 and
27 May 2015), Austria (where he also applied for asylum, on 2 August 2015) and Italy,
before reaching Switzerland. On 17 September 2015, the State Secretariat for Migration,
having run his digital fingerprints through the central EURODAC database, which revealed
that the complainant had applied for asylum in Bulgaria on 18 March 2015, requested
Bulgaria to take him back. On 1 October 2015, the Bulgarian authorities agreed to the
request. By a decision of 12 October 2015, the State Secretariat, noting that the complainant

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2

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GE.18-04727

The complainant cites reports on the situation in his native province, Nangarhar, which is largely
dominated by the Taliban, who have carried out numerous attacks there, including in the city where
he lived, Jalalabad. He refers to the “European Asylum Support Office 2015 country of origin
information report on Afghanistan”. The complainant also cites reports according to which Bulgarian
asylum procedures do not comply with European standards. He cites, in particular, a press release on
Bulgaria by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and a report from the
Asylum Information Database (AIDA) indicating that the rejection rate for asylum applications is
very high, namely, 91 per cent for applications from non-Syrian asylum seekers.
The complainant asserts that he did not apply for asylum upon entering Bulgaria. Consequently, it is
likely that he was detained because he could be considered an illegal migrant. He cites several reports
in support of this assertion, including a report of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), which indicates that Busmantsi, the centre where the complainant
was held, was known as a place in which human rights violations, including ill-treatment, were
committed. A report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe states that:
“While the 2012 report of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) included specific
recommendations to the Bulgarian Government to improve the conditions in the Busmantsi detention
centre, NGOs have reported no progress in their implementation so far. Detainees in both Busmantsi
and Lyubimets reportedly complained in 2014 of abusive, sometimes violent, treatment by guards,
overcrowding and noise, tension among various nationality groups, the mixing of unaccompanied
children with adults, dirty and insufficient toilets, inadequate ventilation and the poor quality of the
food. They also indicated that they had limited means to communicate with the outside world, as well
as a lack of communication with guards and other authorities” (www.openingdoors.eu/wpcontent/uploads/2015/10/CommDH201512_EN.pdf).
In support of his claims, the complainant has produced a medical report drawn up on 4 December
2015, according to which he is experiencing a severe depressive episode requiring intensive
outpatient psychiatric treatment and medication. Removal to Bulgaria would expose him to a risk of
suicide. A psychiatrist in Geneva assessed the complainant on 11 November 2015 and diagnosed him
with probable post-traumatic stress disorder and a severe depressive episode without symptoms of
psychosis.
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