Belgium court rules gov't deliberately violated asylum seekers’ rights

Prosecution launches probe into whether Belgian government committed crime by denying refugees right to reception

Selen Temizer  | 14.06.2022 - Update : 14.06.2022
Belgium court rules gov't deliberately violated asylum seekers’ rights


The Belgian government violated the asylum seekers' right to the reception in a "deliberate, coordinated and sustained" manner, a court in Brussels ruled on Tuesday.

According to local media, the Brussels Labor Court found State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi guilty of violating the asylum seekers' right to reception.

Legally, Belgium must offer a temporary place to stay, get cleaned and eat to everyone who asks for protection, but that is not the case with all asylum seekers.​​​​​​​

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into whether the government has committed a crime by doing so.

Referring to the court’s ruling, Mahdi on Tuesday said on Twitter: "Nonsense. When places are limited, you have to make choices.”

Belgium has been facing a long-term crisis regarding the reception of asylum seekers, and Mahdi is often criticized for taking a tough stance.

The long queues outside the headquarters of Fedasil, the federal agency dealing with asylum seekers in the city, points to the refugee crisis.

“People spend nights out in street in the freezing cold. There is an alternative solution in Belgian law. The Municipal Aid Program can be activated, but there is no political will,” the director of Belgian NGO Coordination and Initiatives for Refugees and Foreigners (CIRE), Sotieta Ngo, earlier told Anadolu Agency.

Some 10 leading NGOs in Belgium, including CIRE, took the issue to court.

Hearing the application of these NGOs on Jan. 19, the court condemned the Belgian state and Fedasil for mismanagement and ordered them to pay a penalty of €5,000 ($5222) for each working day being spent by asylum-seekers without shelter.​​​​​​​

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