Revocation of Status for Women from Afghanistan (2014)
The vast majority of the responses to the AHQ indicated that the MS had not experienced this kind of trend with Afghan asylum seekers and certainly had no experience with initiating withdrawa of refugee status for female Afghan asylum seekers.
Of those who had, several MS, including the NL and Sweden reported similar experiences, though they handled the cases somewhat differently. Of those MS who have experienced cases of this nature, there is a common consensus that a revocation/cancelation procedure should be started and the protection status and residence permit could be withdrawn if the protection status was obtained on fraudulent declarations that have been decisive for the outcome of the asylum application.
However Norway and the Netherlands stand out with what it looks like their significantly more consistent policy of revoking protection status of applicants in this group, based on the grounds that protection is no longer required once the husband joins the spouse in the host country.
Sweden reported that they are considering a practice whereby the women are given a temporary residence permit while waiting to be re-united with their husbands. They can initially be granted refugee status due do the dire circumstances for women without access to a male network in Afghanistan. If and when they are re-united with their husbands, their refugee status might be revoked. If the husband is in need of international protection he will be granted a permanent residence permit and the wife also. If he is not in such need, both he and his wife might be returned to Afghanistan, since the wife has gained new access to a male network through her husband and thus no longer can be considered a refugee.
Some of the countries that reported incidents of cases such as the ones described by Norway, also reported that the number was so small as to be insignificant, and certainly not a question of a trend as such. Such as Belgium which explained that on principal the protection status and residence permit could be withdrawn if the protection status was obtained on fraudulent declarations that have been decisive for the outcome of the asylum application.
However it is hard to prove that fraud has been committed when asylum seekers claim that their husband disappeared during the journey to Europe or in Afghanistan, and later shows up in Belgium.
Germany explained that in the time period January 2013 until May 2014, about 1,720 cases of Afghan nationals were examined by the Federal Office. It was only in 28 cases that a revocation procedure was initiated due to a subsequent change of situation, resp., of the Asylum Procedure Act. Of these cases, only four procedures concerned female Afghan nationals.
Generally the vast majority of MS reported that female applicants from Afghanistan are not systematically questioned about domestic violence or forced violence if there are no indications that they could be a victim of this. It mostly depends on the claims of the applicant and possible signs of vulnerability detected during the registration or the interview procedure. On the other hand, Poland, Latvia and the Slovak Republic report that in cases of single female applicants, they would systematically question the applicant’s domestic situation.
France mentions that they experienced similar cases with female asylum seekers from Chechnya in the 2000s and the NL reports that they experience similar cases now with Iraqi and Somali asylum seekers. While Norway reports some recent similar cases from Chechnya, Sweden reports on similar cases from Somalia. Otherwise a number of MS have reported isolated incidents of similar cases with other nationalities
The few MS who mention unaccompanied minors also indicate that this practice of revocation would apply to them (very few in this category though).