No Sudanese will be deported from Belgium before an independent investigation clarifies reports that they will be illtreated on their return to Sudan, Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Thursday in parliament. He added that he hoped to obtain the results of the investigation in January.
The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and other forms of ill treatment, describing it as “a sacred principle”.
The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) did not appear to be on the same wavelength as the Prime Minister. Before hearing his statements, N-VA parliamentarian Sarah Smeyers had said she was happy there had been “no suspension” of the expulsions. “That’s a good thing,” she had added.
On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal in Liège threw out a lawsuit lodged by the Belgian Human Rights League in a bid to stop the expulsion of a group of Sudanese by the State, thus overturning an October ruling by a lower court prohibiting the expulsions.
The Human Rights League had charged that the Sudanese had been subjected to arbitrary arrests and maltreatment. It also denounced the expeditious nature of the orders to leave the country, the risks linked to the identification of the refugees by Sudanese authorities, and violations of the Human Rights Convention.
The members of the group were among about 100 Sudanese nabbed in police raids earlier this year in the Gare du Nord neighbourhood in Brussels, and sent to closed centres. The State of Belgium decided to deport some of them. Some of those concerned had accepted voluntary repatriation, but were reportedly tortured on their return to their country.
In October, a lower court issued a summary ruling prohibiting the expulsion of Sudanese detained at the Vottem closed centre and their identification by a mission sent by the Sudanese authorities.
The Secretary of State for Asylum, Theo Francken, announced then that the State would appeal against the lower court’s decision. The Liège Appeal Court has now overturned that decision, ruling the Human Rights League’s suit inadmissible.
Sibylle Gioé, lawyer for the League said: “This is not a decision on the merits of the case, but a decision linked to a technicality. The Secretary of State announced his victory in a tweet, but it’s a technical victory.”