Belgium: CALL recognizes two Iraqi brothers from Baghdad as refugees

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

In two judgments of 14 December 2016 (nos. 179 408 and 179 409) the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL) recognised two Iraqi brothers as refugees. The applicants had lived most of their lives in Malaysia and had studied in Tajikistan, but had to leave the country as their student visas were no longer valid. They returned to Iraq and worked at the Zayouna Health Centre in Baghdad for less than a month, when they received a letter with a gun bullet. They were not able to read the letter, except for their names, as they did not understand Arabic. After receiving the letters, one of the brothers got kidnapped by militias and was told to leave the country within three days. Both applicants fled to Belgium and applied for asylum.                                                

According to the Council for Alien Law Litigation, the protection officer of the CGRS who refused to grant refugee status had based his credibility assessment too much on his own assumptions. The CALL states that context should be taken into account when assessing the credibility of the facts. As the applicants were in Iraq for less than a month and had no family or network to fall back on, it is plausible that they did not want help from their landlord nor from colleagues in the hospital to translate the letter, since they feared losing their job or being made homeless.

Taking into account the individual circumstances of the applicants - they are doctors with Sunni background without a family network who moved into a Shiite neighbourhood shortly before their flight - and the general situation in Iraq, the CALL decides that the applicants have a well-founded fear of persecution within the meaning of Art 1A(2) of the Geneva Convention in conjunction with Article 48/3 of the Belgian Aliens Act.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

The ELENA Weekly Legal Update would like to thank Brecht De Schutter for bringing this to our attention.


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Credibility assessment
Individual assessment
Persecution (acts of)
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Personal interview
Well-founded fear