The Secretary of State for Migration, Theo Francken, decided independently on the attribution of humanitarian visas, Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters said on Wednesday. Peeters, who is from the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party, said applications for humanitarian visas were never submitted to the Federal Government for approval but were decided by Francken, who is a member of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA). The Secretary of State, he added, set much store by this.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s explanation came in response to a question on the arrest on Tuesday of an N-VA municipal councillor for Mechelen, Melikan Kucam.
The announcement of Kucam’s arrest had the effect of “a bomb within the Government”, Peeters added on arriving at the EU headquarters in Brussels for an extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting on Brexit.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the matter was “very, very serious” but it was premature to accuse anyone “without knowing the dossier”.
He said it was possible to avoid such a situation in future. “This total delegation to a secretary of state without supervision leads unfortunately to wrongdoings,” he commented. “The Government colleagues and the present (immigration minister) must study how to reorganise that for the future”.
For his part, Open-Vld Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo expressed doubts about the legality of associating intermediaries in the issuing of visas, which he also described as “dangerous”. He said Minister Maggie De Block, who inherited the Asylum and Immigration portfolio following the N-VA’s departure from the Government, would not work with any intermediary.