Asylum application can be turned down for participation in a terrorist group
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    Asylum application can be turned down for participation in a terrorist group

    © Belga
    The ECJ has ruled upon the right of those who have participated in terrorist activities to claim refugee status.
    © Belga

    An asylum application can be turned down if the asylum seeker has participated in terrorist group activities. This is the case even if he has not personally carried out terrorist acts. The decision emerges from a legal ruling made by the European Court of Justice (“the ECJ”) in a case directly concerning Belgium.

    The ECJ was asked to rule upon prejudicial questions, posed by the Belgian Council of State, in the case of a Moroccan sentenced in Belgium.

    This related to his participation in activities of the Islamic Group of Moroccan Fighters (IGMF) and subsequent asylum application in Belgium, upon fearing persecution in his country of origin.

    His request for asylum was turned down on two occasions before being accepted by the Aliens Litigation Council. The Council of State wished to obtain legal confirmation upon what conditions an asylum seeker could be excluded from refugee status when found guilty of participation in terrorist group activities, without actually having committed an act of terrorism.

    The Court observes that the notion of “dealings contrary to the aims and principles of the United Nations” as laid down by the directive on refugee status, with a view to refusing this status, is broader than the commission of terrorist acts.

    The Court states, “In resolution 2178 (2014), the Security Council is ‘deeply concerned by the fearsome and growing threat which foreign terrorist fighters bring to bear.’”

    The Court elaborates, “The Security Council is concerned about networks organised by terrorist groups, aiming to spread across state borders both fighters of all nationalities and the resources which they need.”

    It concludes by ruling that any individual who may also possibly have solely participated in terrorist network activities is also precluded from obtaining refugee status.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times