Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure

Belgium

Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 30/11/20

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The CGRS uses the accelerated procedure for nationals of safe countries of origin. The list has been renewed by the Royal Decree of 15 February 2019.

Palestinians originating from Gaza: Until the fall of 2018, the CGRS usually granted refugee status to persons originating from Gaza but, on 5 December 2018, it announced that this would no longer be the case. This policy change followed an increase in the number of asylum seekers coming from Gaza, who were further targeted by several dissuasion campaigns.[1]

According to the CGRS, the evolution of the situation in the Gaza Strip, and especially the fact that the living conditions are no longer problematic for all inhabitants, a case by case assessment must be conducted on each asylum application.[2]

In this context, the CGRS stated that the determining element will be inter alia to assess the possibility or not to return to Gaza from Egypt, given that during the first half of 2018, the Rafah border crossing separating the two countries was closed. Although the border crossing has now opened again, the risk and the fear to return remains an important element for the assessment under article 1D of the Refugee Convention. When granting protection, the CGRS takes therefore into account the situation on the field and conducts a thorough assessment of all available evidence.

Following this policy change, there have been some judicial developments. The CALL annulled a decision of the CGRS refusing to grant protection to a Palestinian applicant from Gaza. The applicant had provided more recent information on the difficulties that Palestinians face at the border crossing-points. The CALL confirmed that the examination of the accessibility to the Rafah border is a crucial element in the assessment of requests for international protection of Palestinian citizens originating from Gaza. A rigorous review by the CGRS was therefore needed to assess whether the situation at the border has altered.[3

The CALL had ruled on several occasions that the civilian population of Gaza is being persecuted and faces systematic violations of fundamental human rights, which constitutes a serious breach of human dignity.[4] The CALL related here to the economic consequences of the ongoing blockade and the latest war between Israel and Hamas that has had a substantial and detrimental impact on the civilian population of Gaza.

However, in four more recent judgments of 18 and 19 November 2019, the united Chambers of the CALL clarified that not all Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are eligible for international protection. Country information indicates that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is still operational in Gaza. The security situation is precarious, but a return via the Rafah border is possible and there is no systematic persecution of Palestinians nor appalling living conditions. However, the CALL also confirmed that individual circumstances may give rise to the granting of international protection in specific cases.[5]

 


[1] Knack, ‘De Block gaat Palestijnen ontraden om naar België te komen’, 4 March 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/368goEV; MO, ‘Zo ontmoedigt ons land Palestijnen uit Gaza om hier asiel aan te vragen’, 24 September 2019, https://bit.ly/2NAnGux.

[2] Myria, Contact meeting, 16 January 2019, available in Dutch at: https://bit.ly/2HeyRXu, 310.

[3] CALL, Decision No 216,474, 7 February 2019

[4] CALL, Decision No 206 073, 28 June 2018; No 182 381, 16 February 2017; No 150 535, 7 August 2015.

[5] CALL, Decisions No 28889; 228888; 228946 and 228949; 18 and 19 November 2019.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation