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Case C-542/13 M’Bodj v. État Belge [2015] C.M.L.R. 16

DATE: 18 Dec 2014

This case was heard together with Case C-562/13 Centre public d’action sociale d’Ottignies-Louvain-La-Neuve v. Abdida [2015] 2 C.M.L.R. 15 before the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union. Both cases concerned the scope of humanitarian protection available under EU law to non-EU citizens suffering from serious illness whose removal would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.

In M’Bodj, the CJEU held that, although the removal of a seriously ill person could in exceptional circumstances amount to a breach of Article 3 ECHR, the Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (“the Qualification Directive”) did not confer any rights on such a person but was concerned only with the protection from harm by external agents in the person’s country of origin. Accordingly, such persons were not entitled under EU law to the social welfare and healthcare benefits which the Qualification Directive required to be given to persons granted asylum or humanitarian protection.

The full judgment is available here.

In Abdida, the CJEU held that, notwithstanding the position under the Qualification Directive, the removal of a person suffering a serious illness to a country where appropriate treatment was not available could in exceptional circumstances be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in such circumstances their removal had to be suspended pursuant to Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals. Further, Directive 2008/115/EC required the provision of emergency health care and essential treatment of illness to be made available to such persons during the period in which the Member State is required to postpone their removal. 

The full judgment is available here

Charles Banner appeared as sole counsel for the UK Government before the Grand Chamber of the CJEU in both cases, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor.