Netherlands calls Belgium an unreliable partner and refuses to send back asylum seeker

A Dutch court has refused to send an asylum seeker back to Belgium because the country is not a reliable partner in Europe to send asylum seekers to, it says. "Remarkably, Belgium is committed to European solidarity, but for its part does not do what it should," the Human Rights League told De Standaard.

The case involves a Nigerian man who had previously sought international protection in Italy, Germany, France and Belgium in 2021. Although he ended up in the Netherlands, the Dutch authorities asked him to return to France or Belgium under the Dublin Convention.

This agreement requires asylum seekers to apply in the first country they reach to avoid multiple attempts in different countries. However, the man refused to return to Belgium because of its inability to provide accommodation for single men and took the case to court.

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After assessing Belgium's situation, the Dutch court sided with the man, citing evidence that "single, adult, non-vulnerable male asylum seekers face a real risk of prolonged deprivation of accommodation" and essential provisions for a dignified life.

The court explicitly stated that Belgium's "inter-state principle of trust" couldn't be applied to single men and criticised the country's approach as it violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Kati Verstrepen, the League for Human Rights president, said she was surprised that Belgium was calling for solidarity between member states while failing to address its problems.

Individual cases

The Immigration Service said these were individual cases and that the consequences of the Dutch decisions were uncertain. In the short term, it may reduce the number of asylum applications. Concern remains, however, about the potential long-term damage to the solidarity that is an integral part of the Dublin Regulation, which could jeopardise European cooperation.

In February 2023, a Chinese asylum seeker was also exempted from return to Belgium on the grounds of potential "inhuman treatment", according to the Dutch court.



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