Lawyers for the Belgian human rights league on Wednesday urged the Brussels civil court to condemn the State of Belgium for failing to comply with EU relocation quotas for seekers of international protection when Greece and Italy were overwhelmed by mass arrivals of migrants in 2015.
The State of Belgium, for its part, considers that this claim should be declared inadmissible on the grounds that the Ligue has no interest in filing the suit.
The lawyers for the Ligue des droits humains, Manon Libert, Tristan Wibault and Christophe Marchand, argued that the State was at fault for not respecting its commitments to relocate asylum seekers as the European Union had mandated since 2015.
The decision to relocate the asylum seekers had been taken in the wake of a major wave of migration that hit Italy and Greece, gateways to the Schengen area, particularly hard.
European countries undertook to respect a plan to redistribute 160,000 people from these two countries. However, the league noted that, according to a European Commission report in September 2017, Belgium had taken in only 677 of the migrants, whereas it had been assigned 2,415 relocations.
The league’s lawyers argued that this constituted a crime against humanity through failure to act, as the asylum seekers were subjected to degrading and inhumane living conditions in overcrowded camps. “It is obvious that if Belgium had fulfilled its obligations, the situation would have been quite different,” said Maitre Wibault.
The league is calling for compensation "in kind" for the damage, i.e. reception on Belgian soil of the number of people that Belgium had undertaken to take in.