Court Blocks Belgium's 'Illegal' Deportation of Sudanese Migrants

The Court of First Instance in Liège confirmed that the deportation of Sudanese nationals was an unlawful order made by the state secretary for asylum and migration.

By concluding an agreement with the Sudanese dictatorial regime over the identification of migrants in a city park in Brussels, the Belgian state secretary for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, reached a new low in his policy of going after exiles. Those chased down and detained include families and children who have been trying to survive in the Belgian capital in the hope of one day reaching the UK.

ECHR violations

Under the pretext that France and other EU countries are also cooperating with Sudanese officials, Francken believed that he didn't need to consider the high number of human rights violations that are taking place in Sudan, a country ruled by a dictatorial regime.

The police raids carried out in order to "clean" the capital resulted in the detention of nearly 100 Sudanese nationals. They currently sit in closed detention centers until they are deported. Authorities had originally arranged for flights to Sudan and other third countries to depart on October 5.

This would very likely have endangered the lives of these migrants, and for this reason the Belgian League of Human Rights (LDH) decided to act and appeal to a court with a unilateral application to halt the deportations.

The Court of First Instance in Liège ruled in favour of LDH's application, which was based on the Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which stipulates, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Deportations halted

By issuing orders to migrants to leave its territory, the Belgian state committed an unlawful act and violated the subjective right of the Sudanese migrants to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment and torture under the Article 3 of the ECHR, and their right to non-refoulement under Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.

The legal consequences of this decision are quite serious: the court prohibited the state from returning the Sudanese migrants detained in Liège to Sudan or to any other EU state, putting a stop to the flights planned for October 5. Belgium is also prohibited from carrying out identification investigations on the Sudanese nationals in cooperation with the Sudanese government.

The court also decided to impose a penalty on the Belgian government of €20.000 if the state contravenes one of the two aforementioned decisions.

Government crossed a red line

This ruling sends a powerful message to the government. There must be now a political response. By concluding such an agreement with the Sudanese dictatorial regime, the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration openly crossed the redline in its policies in which the end (“cleaning” the capital”) justifies the means (ordering raids and arrests quotas, cooperating with a dictatorship).

In the opinion of LDH, the reputation of the state secretary as well the reputation of the government, which approved the unlawful returns, are clearly at stake.