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EU court eases passage for people fleeing conflict zones

Published on 18/02/2009

Luxembourg — Europe’s top court ruled Tuesday that people from conflict zones seeking shelter in the EU are not obliged to prove that they could be personally targeted for their applications in order to be accepted.

The ruling came on the case of an Iraqi couple denied temporary residency status in the Netherlands because they had not established the "real risk of serious and individual threat" they claimed to be exposed to if they returned to Iraq.

The European Court of Justice, sitting in Luxembourg, found that an applicant does not have to present "evidence that he is specifically targeted by reason of factors particular to his personal circumstances."

It said a threat to life can be considered established "where the degree of indiscriminate violence characterizing the armed conflict … reaches such a high level" that a civilian could be thought to be in serious danger.

Iraq has been torn by insurgency and sectarian strife after US-led forces invaded it in March 2003 to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.