What is an asylum application?
Asylum is the legal protection granted by a host State to a person who seeks protection because of fear of persecution or threat in his or her country. The person who benefits from the right of asylum has the status of a refugee.
The asylum application is a procedure allowing the applicant to obtain refugee status, in order to be allowed to stay in a country. In short, the "asylum application is the fact that a person who meets the criteria of asylum formulates his desire for international protection to the host state".
What is refugee status then?
Refugee status is the legal situation that follows a favorable response to a request for international protection submitted by an applicant to a host State.
The refugee status is granted to a foreigner who fears persecution in his or her country and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country.
Under international law, a refugee is a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution or a serious threat to life, limb, or freedom, whether by reason of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country or to return to it by reason of such fear. This is the definition of a refugee under the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees.
This flight can also be motivated by conflict situations, violence, or public order disturbances. This situation is covered in Niger by the provisions of the 1969 OAU Convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa.
Refugees are protected by international law and cannot be returned to their country if there is a risk to their life or freedom.
On what grounds can I apply for asylum?
Asylum may be applied for by persons who :
- Have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group (including gender), political opinion (1951 Geneva Convention) and by extension, for reasons of conscience.
- Are exposed to serious threats of the death penalty, inhuman or degrading treatment or a threat to their life or person in a context of generalized violence due to an internal or international armed conflict (subsidiary protection).
- Are placed under the mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), i.e., people with refugee status.
Which structure deals with asylum applications in Agadez?
The structure in charge of asylum issues in Agadez is the Field Office of the National Commission on Eligibility for Refugee Status (CNE= Commission Nationale d’Eligibilité), which is housed in the Regional Directorate of Civil Status, Migration and Refugees (DRECM-R), which is the decentralized structure of the General Directorate of Civil Status, Migration and Refugees of the Ministry of the Interior and Decentralization, which is responsible for refugees. UNHCR supports the activities of the DREC-M-R. Asylum seekers are concurrently placed under the mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
How to apply for asylum?
In order to be granted refugee status, the asylum seeker must follow an individual refugee status determination procedure. This is the principle that applies to all asylum seekers. Exceptionally, in the case of Malian nationals and those of certain Nigerian states in the grip of the Boko Haram sect, following two bilateral agreements between the states of Niger and Mali on the one hand, and Niger and Nigeria on the other, there would be a question of prima facies (group recognition). This is not the case in the region of Agadez where they must submit an individual asylum application.
In the case of Agadez, any person who wishes to benefit from refugee status must submit a handwritten, signed, and stamped application for asylum to the CNE Field Office at the Direction Régionale de l'Etat Civil des Migrations et des Réfugiés (DREC-M-R) located between the governorate, the Telwa pharmacy and the regional CNDH.
Does the person concerned need to have his papers in order to apply for asylum?
In general, people who flee their countries do not have any papers, so no specific documents are expected from the asylum seeker. However, if the asylum seeker is in possession of an identity document or any other document that could provide information about his/her identity and the reasons for his/her asylum application, he/she should submit it/them with his/her application. In the absence of any document, the stories of potential asylum seekers are given on a simple statement.
How long does it take to be granted refugee status after submitting an asylum application?
Asylum procedures in Niger are the responsibility of the State, which is responsible for ensuring the implementation of international conventions ratified in this area (1951 Geneva Convention and 1969 OAU Convention). The procedures take time and patience is required. The average processing time between registration and a decision in the first instance is between 12 and 18 months and up to 30 months for appeals. The National Commission on Eligibility for Refugee Status (CNE) is responsible for making first instance decisions. The Comité de Recours Gracieux (CRG) – the Gracious Appeal committee - is the appeal body.
Will the asylum seeker be able to benefit from UNHCR assistance during this waiting period?
In principle, in order to benefit from UNHCR's assistance, one must have the status of an asylum seeker. However, given the time it takes from registration to a first instance decision and the vulnerability of the applicants during this waiting period, while remaining under the protection of the State, the asylum seeker benefits from UNHCR assistance.
As a refugee, do I have the right to engage in a professional or income-generating activity in Niger?
Refugees have the same right to exercise a professional activity, whether salaried or not, as the nationals of the country that concludes the most favorable convention with Niger. However, they are required to obtain prior authorization to work.
How long is refugee status valid for?
This card is valid for a period of two (2) years and is renewable upon expiration. In case of loss and at the request of the refugee, a duplicate will be issued upon presentation of a declaration of loss signed by the police.
Does a refugee have the right to return voluntarily to his or her country of origin?
Refugees in asylum can return to their country of origin under two conditions :
- First, the refugee's return must be voluntary. In this case, we speak of a voluntary return, without any form of pressure on the refugee.
- Secondly, it must be ensured that the conditions for the safe and dignified return of the refugee are met. Only then can the return of the asylum seeker or refugee be organized. This requires all possible assistance from the country of asylum, the country of origin and international organizations.
In case of an unfavorable opinion, how to lodge an appeal?
In the event of an unfavorable opinion on the asylum application, the applicant has a period of 60 days from the notification of the CNE's decision to lodge an appeal with the Free Appeal Committee. The appeal file must be filed with the DREC-M-R. UNHCR accompanies asylum seekers in the constitution of their file.
What to do if the appeal is rejected or the first decision is confirmed?
In case of non-contentious appeal, two possible outcomes:
- The Gracious Appeal Committee, in the light of new elements in the file, decides to reconsider its first decision by granting a favorable opinion.
- The Committee persists on its initial position by confirming it.
Here too, the applicant still had a final remedy before the Council of State. It should be noted that the appeal is at the expense of the asylum seeker who will have to bear the costs of a lawyer:
- When the Council of State confirms the decision in appeal, therefore unfavorable opinion, then the now ex-asylum seeker becomes a simple migrant on the territory of the host State: two possibilities:
- Equip themselves with the necessary documentation to regularize their situation on the territory of the host country;
- Deportation to the border; the Council of State grants asylum.
In case of confirmation, the Committee gave a favorable opinion.
- When, as a result of the appeal, the asylum seeker is recognized as a refugee, the President of the CRG notifies him/her of the decision recognizing him/her as a refugee in Niger and issues a refugee identity card.
- When his appeal is rejected, the asylum seeker is informed by a written decision, mentioning the reasons for the rejection, and signed by the President of the CRG or his representative.
If the asylum seeker's appeal is rejected, he/she is no longer under the UNHCR mandate and assistance stops after a certain period of time. However, he/she can request regularization of his/her stay in Niger, voluntary return to his/her country of origin and/or readmission to his/her first country of asylum (for the persons concerned). He/she can also appeal to the Council of State (attention: the assistance of a lawyer is mandatory before the Council of State and is not free of charge; UNHCR does not pay for it).
For any questions you can contact us through :
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