Belgium: Brussels Labour Court condemns Fedasil for failure to accommodate minor Afghan asylum seeker

Monday, December 7, 2015

This case relates to a 17 year old national of Afghanistan who arrived in Belgium as an unaccompanied minor. On 30 November 2015 he presented himself to the Immigration Office in Brussels to claim asylum. He was given a ‘convocation letter’, inviting him to return to the Office on 17 December to officially register his asylum claim. On the same day, his lawyer sent a fax to the Immigration Office making a formal demand for the applicant’s asylum claim to be registered, attaching an application form requesting that he be granted international protection. He requested accommodation from Fedasil, the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers, but this was refused on the basis that he did not have the ‘annex 26’ document, which is official proof of lodging an asylum claim.

He lodged an application to the President of the Brussels Labour Tribunal for interim measures to condemn Fedasil and the Belgian State to accommodate him, as well as for legal aid. This was deemed inadmissible for not meeting the condition of absolute necessity required for such measures. An appeal was lodged which came before the Brussels Labour Court.  

The Court found that domestic law obliged the federal authorities to treat asylum claims by unaccompanied minors with urgency. It referred to the recent ECtHR decision in V.M. and Others v. Belgium in which a violation of Article 3 was found due to inadequate reception conditions provided to a vulnerable asylum seeking family, forced to live on the streets. The applicant, as a minor living on the streets, was exposed to an extremely serious situation, with a risk of significant harm.

While domestic law provided for material reception conditions to be granted to asylum seekers from the lodging of their claim, with respect for their human dignity, it did not define what this meant, only providing that it must be submitted to the Immigration Office. However, in view of the provisions contained in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive(Article 6(4)) and the recast Reception Conditions Directive (Article 17(1)), there was aprima facie case that the applicant was considered to have applied for asylum on 30 November, by submitting the asylum claim form, and should therefore benefit from material reception conditions.

Therefore the Court ordered Fedasil to immediately accommodate the applicant in a reception centre adapted to his needs, or face a 125 euro fine per day, starting from 3 working days from notification of the judgment. As Fedasil was the responsible authority for accommodating asylum seekers, the Court saw no need to separately condemn the State. This is a temporary urgent measure that does not definitively rule on the legal situation of the parties, and will lapse if the applicant does not attend his appointment on 17 December 2015.

Based on an unofficial ELENA translation. The ELENA Weekly Legal update would like to thank Franz Geleyn and François Roland for providing us with this judgment.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Effective access to procedures
Inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Material reception conditions
Reception conditions
Vulnerable person