By reaching an agreement with the Sudanese government over the identification of migrants staying in Maximilien Park, in Brussels, the secretary of state for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, just reached a new stage in its policy of chasing exiles, including families and children, who are currently trying to survive in the Belgium capital in the hope of leaving and reaching the UK.
A sordid deal
The secretary of state for asylum and migration seems to be blinded by the fear that a new 'Calais Jungle' could emerge in the Belgian capital, to such an extent that he shred its dignity by negotiating an agreement with a Sudanese official delegation from the Home Affairs Department.
This delegation is following the orders of a president who is currently under an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for genocide and crimes against humanities.
The secretary of state is well aware of the many human rights violations that are currently perpetrated in Sudan, a country that is led by a dictatorial regime. The high recognition rate of international protection applications from Sudanese nationals reflects how tough and dangerous the situation is for government opponents in Sudan, who are at risk of torture if arrested.
By carrying out identification procedures on the Sudanese nationals who have been arrested during the police raids carried out in Maximilien Park, Francken is endangering not only the lives of these people if they were to return their home country, but also the lives of their families who remained in Sudan.
Partnering with a dictator
The initiation of these identification in collaboration with an official Sudanese delegation working under the orders of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir means that the secretary of state is now cooperating with a dictatorial regime.
While the Belgian government is currently applying for a seat on the UN Security Council in New York, the secretary of state is sending out a disastrous message to the whole world.
In such a context, and while the prime minister is believed to cover this so-called 'technical' cooperation between his secretary of state and Sudan, how could Belgium reasonably apply for a seat on the UN Security Council? By cooperating with Khartoum, Belgium is openly ignoring a decision of the Council, which requested the ICC in 2005 to launch an inquiry that resulted in issuing an arrest warrant against al-Bashir, who is still in power today.
The Belgian League of Human Rights is urging the government to be consistent and to choose between withdrawing its candidacy for UN Security Council membership, or sending a strong message to the Secretary of State and ending this partnership with Sudan. Secretary Francken has made a serious political mistake by concluding this unlawful agreement, and it comes after ordering police raids and the implementation of arrest quotas, among other things.
As far as basic rights are concerned, the credibility and decency of the Belgian government are now at stake.