A non-Portuguese national was sleeping in the street and was approached by a police officer. After this approach, he informed the police officer that he was waiting for the opening of the Temporary Reception Centre there, in order to apply for political asylum. This applicant, prior to this event, had already been in Italy, where he had been denied political asylum.
On 23 July 2018 the applicant applied for international protection with the Asylum and Refugee Office of the Aliens and Borders Service in Lisbon – "SEF”. On 27 of that same month, the Portuguese authorities sent the Italian authorities a take back request, invoking Article 18(1)(b) of Regulation [EU] No 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 - better known as the Dublin Regulation.
This Regulation sets out the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person, stipulating that only one Member State is responsible and the application is therefore subject to a special admissibility procedure.
This procedure provides that an application for international protection may be considered inadmissible if it is established, on the basis of objective data, evidence or clues, that a member-state – namely, Portugal - is not responsible for examining the application for international protection.
Once the applicant had been interviewed, and as the Italian authorities had not replied to the request to take back the applicant, the Portuguese authorities decided that the application for international protection was inadmissible and considered that Italy agreed to take back the applicant for international protection.
However, at the time of that decision there were a number of media reports indicating that Italy had tightened its policy on the reception of refugees, with the aim of substantially reducing the number of asylum seekers. This new policy, among other things, involved training Libyan coastguards to actively patrol the Libyan coast to intercept migrants who wanted to flee, and it was claimed that Italy was well aware of the degrading conditions in Libyan detention centres.
At the same time, the same news also reported the existence of "improvised" refugee camps built on the border between Italy and France, the closure of which forced children living there to wander into nearby towns, often placing themselves in degrading, promiscuous and dangerous situations.
Faced with the SEF's decision, the applicant brought an action before the Lisbon Administrative Court, which held that SEF should not have considered the application for international protection inadmissible and ordered the transfer to Italy without first collecting reliable and up-to-date information on the operation of the asylum procedure in Italy and on the reception conditions for applicants for international protection in that Member State of the European Union.
Challenging that decision, SEF lodged an appeal with the South Administrative Central Court, which was dismissed. In light of that circumstance, SEF lodged a "review appeal" with the Supreme Administrative Court.