Case dismissed for Migration Minister's violation of asylum seekers' rights

Case dismissed for Migration Minister's violation of asylum seekers' rights
Asylum seekers waiting outside, at the entry to Fedasil in Brussels. Credit: Belga

The Brussels Public Prosecutor's Office has dismissed the investigation into claims that, under the Minister for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi, the government was deliberately violating asylum seekers’ right to shelter in Belgium.

Last week, the French-speaking labour court of Brussels stated that there is a “deliberate, coordinated and sustained” violation of asylum seekers’ right to shelter in Belgium under Mahdi's oversight.

The announcement came as hundreds of asylum seekers, mainly single men, were not given a temporary place to stay, get cleaned and eat despite this being a legal requirement in Belgium, since Mahdi has been working with a waiting list for the reception of asylum seekers in February, which often results in vulnerable people and families being given priority.

The men in turn went to the Brussels Labour Court, where they were proven right, resulting in Fedasil being forced to find accommodation. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, following this judgement, was asked to analyse whether the government is committing a criminal offence by not offering reception.

It opened an investigation, but on Friday announced that "after legal analysis, and after consultation with the public prosecutor of Brussels as far as the competent state secretary is concerned, this was settled without criminal prosecution," Tim De Wolf, public prosecutor in Brussels, said.

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"In concrete terms, this means that there are no criminal offences and that the file has been closed."

'People sleeping on streets every day'

Mahdi posted an article related to the judgement on his Twitter, stating that this "does not mean that all problems have been solved" repeating his call for EU migration rules to be tightened, "so that asylum seekers travelling through do not put pressure on reception."

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, one of the organisations fighting for the protection of asylum seekers, stressed that this judgement did not "alter the fact that Mahdi's reception policy is illegal and that there are people sleeping on the streets every day, also people who have not yet applied for asylum anywhere else in the EU."

Responding to Madhi's statement that many rejected asylum seekers already have the right to reception in another EU country, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen’s Thomas Willekens stressed that "people do not travel on 'just like that'. The reception conditions in many countries are appalling."

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