Condemned by Strasbourg, Belgium Must Show Compassion for Ill Foreigners

The European Court of Human Rights has found Belgium guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment against a Georgian national who was critically ill.
The Strasbourg Court ruled on December 13 that Belgium was guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment (a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, or ECHR) against a seriously ill Georgian national.

The court ruled that the Belgian state also violated his right to privacy and family life (Article 8 of the ECHR) by intending to deport him to his home country while his wife and children lived in Belgium.

The Belgian League of Human Rights (LDH) has regularly and strongly denounced the administrative practices of the Aliens Office regarding the circumstances that can justify a residency for medical reasons.

The severity of the disease is assessed according to a medical certificate, without meeting the party. Moreover, the severity threshold that is required is such that the death of the patient must be expected within three months.

The Aliens Office only superficially analyzes the availability and accessibility of medical care in the country of return or home country.

Rights are for everyone

With its December 13 judgment in Paposhvili v. Belgium, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) redefined these administrative practices that too often violate fundamental rights and overwhelm the will of lawmakers to combat abuses carried out in the context of residency applications for medical reasons.

The LDH also notes, with some relief, that the offenses committed in this respect did not hide the main questions at issue. It is to the credit of the ECtHR that it reiterated that the values of the Universal Declaration and ECHR are intended to everyone, without exception.

Will it change anything?

The LDH hopes this judgment will lead to radical changes regarding administrative practices.

However, we fear that the administration, along with the secretary of state for asylum and migration, will, once again, not respect the court's decision, as it was already the case for decisions delivered by the Strasbourg court.

There is an urgent need to guarantee the rights of migrants who are ill. Their state of vulnerability should protect them from any arbitrary and unfounded decision. Yet exactly the opposite is currently happening.

The migration policy cannot "cross the red line" regarding the right to life, dignity and family life.