On 5 October, the Brussels Court of First Instance condemned the Belgian state for not offering material reception to applicants of international protection who had electronically requested an appointment to make their application for international protection to the Aliens Office.
After a temporary suspension due to COVID-19 the Belgian state introduced a new electronic registration procedure for asylum applicants to request appointments at the Aliens Office. However, Belgian authorities did not recognize such a request as ‘the making of an application for international protection’ meaning they were left without access to material reception awaiting appointments. In practice, it took from a few days to weeks and in some cases even months before applicants got an appointment. Families with children, single women and men with medical problems and traumas ended up on the streets, in very precarious situations.
The judge rejected this interpretation finding it unlawful and a violation of the subjective right of the applicants to live a dignified life, recalling that the making of an application entails a right to access material reception conditions and that the time between making and registering an application must not exceed 10 days.
The Belgian state was ordered to enable applicants to access material reception conditions, or receive a decision on this access, from the moment that they introduce the online appointment request, and, if the State does not comply within 30 days, condemns them to pay a penalty of 2,500 euro (limited to a total of 100,000 euro) for every day that they do not comply with the order.
For further information:
- ECRE, Belgium: Belgium Withdraws Measures that Unlawfully Excluded Asylum Seekers from Reception, September 2020
- ECRE, Belgium: Legal Challenge of Prolonged COVID Measures Leaving Asylum Seekers Destitute, August 2020
Photo: (CC) Miguel Discart, January 2018