Two citizens of Afghanistan, who had initially been in Swedish territory, "fled" to Portugal and were intercepted by the Foreigners and Borders Service of Portugal - better known as "SEF".
The SEF's decision was to return these two citizens to Sweden immediately, invoking Article 3(2) of the Dublin Regulation, which states:
"2. Where no Member State responsible can be designated on the basis of the criteria set out in this Regulation, the first Member State in which the application for international protection was lodged shall be responsible for examining the application.
Where it is impossible to transfer an applicant to the Member State initially designated as responsible because there are substantial grounds for believing that there are systemic deficiencies in the asylum procedure and in the reception conditions of applicants in that Member State which involve a risk of inhumane or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the Member State carrying out the determination of the Member State responsible shall continue the examination of the criteria set out in Chapter III in order to decide whether any of those criteria allows another Member State to be designated as responsible.
Where a transfer pursuant to this paragraph cannot be made to a Member State designated on the basis of the criteria set out in Chapter III or to the first Member State where the application was lodged, the Member State determining the Member State responsible shall become the Member State responsible".
Faced with that decision, the citizens complained to the Portuguese Ombudsman's Office, claiming that, if that decision were complied with and they were returned to Sweden, Sweden would return them to Afghanistan where they would be persecuted and subjected to ill-treatment.