The Secretary of State for Immigration and Asylum, Theo Francken, intends to confer the status of countries of safe origin on six new states. This would both reduce the chances of their nationals obtaining asylum in Belgium and would facilitate the return of such nationals to their homelands.
This is reported today (Wednesday) in Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen.
Currently, this controversial list shows Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, India and Georgia.
Mr Francken (of the New Flemish Alliance) wishes to add three North African countries (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) as well as Moldova, Senegal and Benin.
He has demanded the opinion of the Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRSP) on the matter.
This is not the first time the Secretary of State has sought to add Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, but up until now the CGRSP has been vehemently opposed.
Morocco and Senegal are, in particular, not considered as safe for homosexuals and transgender individuals.
Theo Francken envisages there being an exception available for such cases. Around 100 asylum seekers come each year from the three affected North African countries.
The opinion of the CGRSP is not binding. Moreover, last July, the New Flemish Alliance representative did not follow it, by recognising Georgia as a safe country.