Secretary of State for Immigration and Asylum Theo Francken wishes to add three North African countries Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco on the list of safe countries.
This is not the first time the Secretary of State has sought to add Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, but up until now the CGRSP has been vehemently opposed.
Theo Francken envisages there being an exception available for such cases. Around 100 asylum seekers come each year from the three affected North African countries.
He also intends to confer the status of countries of safe origin on six new states.
This would both reduce the chances of their nationals obtaining asylum in Belgium and would facilitate the return of such nationals to their homelands.
Currently, this controversial list shows Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, India and Georgia. Mr Francken (of the New Flemish Alliance) wishes also to add Moldova, Senegal and Benin.
He has demanded the opinion of the Commissioner-General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRSP) on the matter.
The opinion of the CGRSP is not binding. Moreover, last July, the New Flemish Alliance representative did not follow it, by recognising Georgia as a safe country.
Safe country of origin
The safe country of origin concept was introduced in the Aliens Act in 2012. The Law of 19 January 2012 established an accelerated admissibility procedure similar to the procedure that was already in place for EU citizens and the procedure to determine the countries of origin that are considered to be safe. According to this provision, countries can be considered safe if the rule of law in a democratic system and the general political circumstances allow to conclude that in a general and durable manner there is no persecution or real risk of serious harm, taking into consideration the laws and regulations and the legal practice in that country, the respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the ECHR and for the principle of non-refoulement and the availability of an effective remedy against violations of these rights and principles.2
After having received a detailed advice of the CGRS, the government approves the list of safe countries of origin upon the proposal of the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The list must be reviewed annually and can be adjusted.3 The Royal Decree of 11 May2015 on Safe Countries of Origin reconfirmed the list with the same 7 safe countries of origin that was adopted for the first time in 2012: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and India.
The Brussels Times – asylumineurope.