Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

Belgium

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 01/04/21

Author

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Visit Website

Number of staff and nature of the determining authority

 

Name in English Number of staff Ministry responsible Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?
Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) 494,1

FTE

Independent Yes No

 

The CGRS is responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance. The institutional independence of the CGRS is explicitly laid down in law.[1] It thus takes individual decisions on asylum applications and does not take any instruction from the competent Minister – or State Secretary – for Asylum and Migration. However, under certain circumstances defined by the Aliens Act, the latter can be involved in the asylum procedures. The Ministry can ask the CGRS to re-examine a previously obtained protection status for example. It can also request from the determining authority to prioritise a specific case.[2]

In 2020, the CGRS had a total of 494,1 FTE staff, out of which 273,2 FTE were caseworkers responsible for examining applications for international protection. As regards its internal structure, the CGRS is divided into geographical departments and into units responsible for certain asylum procedures and/or certain asylum applicants. It has two vulnerability-oriented units that provide support to caseworkers dealing with specific cases, as will be discussed further below. The Dublin procedure, however, is conducted by the Immigration Office prior to transmitting the application to the CGRS.

The CGRS further has internal guidelines on the decision-making process to be applied by caseworkers on asylum claims. These guidelines cover a variety of issues such as the application of the first country of asylum criteria, the processing of subsequent applications, applications requiring special procedural needs or involving LGBTI persons, as well as the conduct of the border procedure. However, they are not made available to the public. Moreover, new reports and policy changes relevant to the decision-making process are immediately communicated through an internal online network containing available country of origin information and other relevant guidelines on certain countries.

As regards quality control and assurance, the caseworker’s decision is discussed with a supervisor, reviewed by the head of the relevant geographical unit and finally approved by the Commissioner-General. The Commissioner-General thus reads and signs every decision, and can decide to further discuss any case if needed. At the Immigration Office, however, no institutional mechanisms are in place to control the quality of decisions relating to Dublin cases.

[1]        Article 57/2 Aliens Act.

[2]       Article 57/6 §2(3) Aliens Act.

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