A group of signatories* including civil liberties organizations, lawyers and judges sent a letter to the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner and United Nations special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers so they can urgently take action following the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum decision not to accept to deliver a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family.

Attack on the judiciary

The organizations are calling on them to take urgent action after the Belgian secretary of state for migration and asylum refused to issue a humanitarian visa or a three months laissez-passer to a Syrian family, in spite of the successive court decisions that ordered him to do so. According to the signatories, this refusal to accept court decisions, which was endorsed by the Belgian government, constitutes an attack on the judiciary, which plays a critical role in protecting fundamental rights.

It should be noted that on December 7, the Brussels Court of Appeal delivered a judgment by which it ordered the Belgian state, with the threat of a periodic penalty payment, to enforce a judgment delivered by the Belgium Aliens Litigation Council ordering the state to issue a humanitarian visa to a Syrian family or a laissez-passer. The secretary of state for migration and asylum had publicly stated that he would not abide by such court decisions, and that he would refuse to accept them even if other judicial authorities upheld them.

Respect the rule of law

In response to these violations by the government, including violations of the rule of law and several basic rights, a (slightly) common front called on the relevant international bodies at UN and Council of Europe levels, to intervene and urgently undertake a visit in Belgium so they can note and qualify the shortcomings as regards the protection of fundamental rights and start a dialogue with public authorities and the civil society.

The signatories are also calling on the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner to place this matter before the general-secretary of the Council on the basis of the violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to a fair and public trial and to an effective remedy before a court, thus guarantying the protection of fundamental rights.

The signatories hope that this will lead to a decent and fair conclusion about this particularly worrying precedent which is about the very separation of powers and, more broadly, the respect for the rule of law by the Belgium government (which is supposed to represent the rule of law).

Read the copy of the letter the signatories sent to the Council of Europe human rights commissioner.

*SIGNATORIES:

  • Association syndicale des magistrats (Trade Union Association of Judges)
  • Avocats.be
  • Liga voor mensenrechten
  • Ligue des droits de l’Homme (Belgium League of Human Rights)
  • Syndicat des avocats pour la démocratie (Lawyers for Democracy Trade Union)