Belgium - Council for Alien Law Litigation, 11 March2008, No. 8512

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
11-03-2008
Citation:
CCE, arrêt no 8512
Court Name:
Council for Alien Law Litigation (BODART)
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
Belgium - Vreemdelingenwet/loi sur les étrangers 15/12/1980 (Aliens Act) - Art 48/3
Belgium - Vreemdelingenwet/loi sur les étrangers 15/12/1980 (Aliens Act) - Artikle 48/4
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF version of SummaryPDF version of Summary
Headnote: 

Extremely serious previous persecution was sufficient to establish a well-founded fear of persecution even when it appeared unlikely to recur. 

Facts: 

The Applicant, a Rwandan of Tutsi ethnic origin, whose family had been murdered during the 1994 genocide, feared reprisals due to her refusal to testify before a Gacaca tribunal.

The Office of the Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) refused to recognise her refugee status. It was unconvinced by the Applicant’s account and found her summons by a Gacaca tribunal to be lacking in credibility. 

Decision & Reasoning: 

The judge began his reasoning by emphasising that the reality of the persecution suffered by the Applicant during the genocide was not in any doubt.

This previous persecution would probably not recur, even if the Applicant returned to her country of origin.

However, ‘well-founded fear’ included a subjective element which had to be assessed taking into account the Applicant’s psychological vulnerability.

The Applicant had suffered extremely serious persecution.  Such persecution constituted a ‘compelling reason’ preventing the termination of refugee status within the meaning of Article 1C(5) of the Refugee Convention.

By analogy, such a ‘compelling reason’ was also sufficient to provide an objective basis forthe purely subjective fear of persecution. The Applicant’s refugee status was recognised.

Outcome: 

Revision of the CGRS’s decision.

Observations/Comments: 

This decision illustrates the CALL’s position that an ‘increased subjective fear’ caused by extremely serious persecution is sufficient to establish a well-founded fear of persecution even when the objective risk has disappeared.  

Case Law Cited: 

Belgium - Commission permanente de recours pour les réfugiés, 25 January 2006, No. 04/4145/E651

Belgium - Commission permanente de recours pour les réfugiés, 24 June 1993, No. 93/192/F204