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    Belgium forced to pay penalty for refusing Syrians visas

    © Belga
    Theo Francken stated that the Belgian state had appealed this ruling
    © Belga

    A court of first instance condemned Belgium to pay a 4,000-euro fine per day, accounting for the total number of days late the Belgian state has been in delivering a visa to a Syrian family, who wished to flee Aleppo. However, an appeal with a suspensive effect, intervened, stated the Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken (New Flemish Alliance).

    A Syrian couple with two children, currently in Aleppo, requested a visa to join a Belgian family in Namur, who were taking responsibility for accommodating them.

    According to the Aliens Litigation Council, the Syrian family, who did not wish to resort to the services of people smugglers, have the right to obtain a visa. However the Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken, refused to grant it.

    The aforementioned court of first instance imposed a penalty upon Belgium of 1,000 euros per family member per day, for the duration that the family do not receive the visa.

    Theo Francken stated that the Belgian state had appealed this ruling.

    He said that the Syrian family did not wish to obtain a humanitarian visa, but a short-stay visa with a view to then requesting asylum.

    Taking a swipe at the ruling on Radio 1, Francken said, “If I grant a 3-month visa, I will have to do it for each Syrian, even if he has no link with our country.”

    The Secretary of State also added that the Geneva Convention stipulates that asylum can only be requested in the country in which the person is physically present.

    Francken states that he will exhaust all judicial procedures so that the Belgian state wins the case.

    The lawyers Thomas Mitevoy and Mieke Van Den Broeck, consider that obtaining a visa granted by the Aliens Litigation Council, is for this Aleppo family the only risk-free possibility they have of fleeing a war zone.

    The refusal of the Secretary of State to produce such a document will force this family into the hands of mafia smugglers.

    Mitevoy and Van Den Broeck denounce, “It has never before happened that a Secretary of State has scorned several judicial decisions.”

    They go on, “It is all the more incredible since he seems to prefer paying penalties than help a family out of danger in Aleppo.“

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times