Belgium, Council of Alien Law Litigation, 30 October 2019, no. 228 238 in case RvV 229 233/IV

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
RvV, 30 October 2019, no. 228 238.
Court Name:
Raad voor Vreemdelingenbetwistingen / Conceil du contentieux des étrangers / Council of Alien Law Litigation
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
- Belgian Law of 15 December 1980 on access to national territory
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Given the condition of Greek health care, a person with a neurological condition, who requires medical follow-up and who has a family, may rightfully invoke Article 3 ECHR to block her, and her family’s, transfer to Greece. 


The Syrian applicant and his family members (his spouse and four children) obtained refugee status in Greece on 21 April 2017, which included a right of residence until 21 April 2020. After their successful application in Greece, the family moved to Belgium, where they lodged a new application for international protection. During their interview before the Belgian asylum authorities, the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), the applicant and his spouse lied about their refugee status in Greece. Ultimately, the CGRS discovered this and deemed their application in Belgium not admissible. 

The applicant considers that, if returned to Greece, he and his family would be exposed to conditions that constitute inhuman or degrading treatment in the sense of Article 3 ECHR.
Decision & Reasoning: 

The Council initially considers, on the basis of the parties’ written submissions, that the living conditions and the guaranteed access to basic rights in Greece, originating from the EU-acquis on asylum, do not constitute conditions contrary to Article 3 ECHR. Furthermore, it admits that there are deficiencies in the Greek asylum procedure and reception conditions but underlines that these deficiencies are not ‘systemic’ and, therefore, not sufficient to suspend transfers to Greece. However, the Council emphasizes that the applicant can object to his return on the basis of individual vulnerabilities, but he does not provide in concreto evidence that this is the case. 

The Council therefore provisionally concludes that the applicant and his family cannot prove that they would be exposed to circumstances contrary to Article 3 ECHR, given that (i) the protection they would receive in Greece should be sufficient, or (ii) their return should not be contrary to the Refugee Convention, and (iii) because they do not run a real risk of serious harm. The Council gave the parties the chance, if they disagree, to ask for an oral hearing, which the applicant does.
At the oral hearing, the applicant provided more information on his and his family’s dire situation in Greece and underlined that his spouse had a severe medical condition, for which she would be operated in Belgium. Furthermore, he underlined that, given her medical condition, their 4 children would end up in degrading circumstances if they were to be transferred to Greece, and, therefore, would be exposed to a situation contrary to Article 3 ECHR.
The Council concludes that, given the vulnerable medical condition of the applicant’s spouse, which requires medically neurological follow-up, added to the sometimes dire circumstances in which people in need of international protection can find themselves in, inter alia because of the lack of access to healthcare, which could result in the exposure of the applicants to conditions contrary to Article 3 ECHR. Therefore, the Council annuls the decision of the CGRS and sends the case back to them.

Appeal granted.

Other sources cited: 

United Chambers RvV, 8 June 2018, no. 205 104