Content of information
The Royal Decree on Immigration Office Procedure provides for an information brochure to be handed to the asylum seeker the moment he or she introduces the asylum application. The brochure is supposed to be in a language the asylum seeker can reasonably be expected to understand and should at least contain information about the asylum procedure, the application of the Dublin III Regulation, the eligibility criteria of the Refugee Convention and of subsidiary protection status, access to legal assistance, the possibility for children to be assisted during the interview, reception accommodation, the obligation to cooperate, the existence of organisations that assist asylum seekers and migrants and the contact details of the UNHCR representative in Belgium.
Modes of information provision
A brochure entitled “Asylum in Belgium”, published by the CGRS and the reception agency, Fedasil, explains the different steps in the asylum procedures, the reception structures and rights and obligations of the asylum seekers. It was last updated in June 2019 and exists in three languages (Dutch, French, English,) and in a DVD version and is distributed at the dispatching desk of Fedasil, where people are designated to a reception accommodation place. Asylum seekers also receive an extensive brochure on the day they make the application.
In October 2019 Fedasil further launched a new website (www.fedasilinfo.be) which is available in 12 languages: Dutch, French, English, Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Russian, Spanish, Albanian, Turkish, Somali and Tigrinya. 8 of these languages also include an audio version. There are 8 main topics addressed: asylum and procedure, accommodation, living in Belgium, return, work, unaccompanied minors, health and learn. The website is only available in Belgium.
In March 2021, the CGRS launched a website www.asyluminbelgium.be. This new website provides information in nine languages about the asylum procedure in Belgium, tailored to the needs of asylum seekers. It aims to reach as many asylum seekers as possible and inform them correctly about their rights and obligations during the asylum procedure. All texts are audio-supported, so that an asylum seeker who is unable or less able to read, has access to all the information. The website also presents four videos, through which the viewer can follow the itinerary of Zana, a refugee, who testifies about her itinerary from the beginning of her asylum application until the moment she receives a decision. This video testimony helps asylum seekers in an accessible way to visualize the different stages they will go through.
Besides this, some specific leaflets are also published and made available. The brochure ‘Women, girls and asylum in Belgium’ was drawn up for female asylum seekers and is translated in nine different languages. It not only contains information about the asylum procedure itself, but also on issues related to health, equality between men and women, intra-family violence, female genital mutilation and human trafficking. For unaccompanied and accompanied minors, the CGRS also created specific brochures explaining the asylum procedure. Leaflets with specific information are also available for asylum seekers in a closed centre, at a border or in prison. There is also the so-called ‘Kizito’ comic dated 2007, designed for unaccompanied children who do not speak any of the official languages in Belgium (Dutch, French and German), conceived to be understood only by the drawings, that explains the different steps of the asylum procedure and life in Belgium.
The Guardianship Service has developed a leaflet on assistance to unaccompanied children. This leaflet is available in 15 languages.
Moreover, the CGRS has published several brochures on different aspects of the asylum procedures. There is a code of conduct for interpreters and translators and a so-called charter on interview practices that serves as the CGRS protection officers’ code of conduct (see Regular Procedure: Personal Interview). All these publications are freely available on the CGRS website.
A procedural guide by Ciré was updated in 2019, but only available in French.
On the websites of Agentschap Inburgering en Integratie (Dutch), Ciré (French) and ADDE (French), extensive legal information is made available on all aspects of the asylum procedure, reception conditions and detention.
Articles 2-3 Royal Decree on Immigration Office Procedure.