Brussels First Instance Tribunal, A. et al v Kingdom of Belgium, Nr. 2020-14-C, 29 April 2020
This case concerns a man who travelled to Syria in 2013 and who was detained in the prison of Al-Hasakah by the Syrian-Kurdish authorities. Relying on several human rights and humanitarian treaties, the man claimed that the Belgian government was under an obligation to repatriate him from Syria. The Tribunal nonetheless held that the applicant was not within the ‘jurisdiction’ of the Belgian State, and that he could also not rely on the Geneva Conventions or the ICC Rome Statute since Belgium was not a party to the armed conflict in Syria. The Tribunal further held that, having travelled to Syria on his own initiative, the applicant was not entitled to consular assistance pursuant to Article 83 of the Belgian Consular Code.
Brussels Court of Appeal, G. v. Kingdom of Belgium, Nr. 2019/KR/5, 19 December 2018
This case concerns an appeal by the Belgian State against the order on provisional measures in G. v. Kingdom of Belgium, which held that the Belgian state must enable two children born in Syria to travel to Belgium based on Belgium’s international obligations. While the judgment had been implemented and the children had been brought to Belgium, the Belgian State nonetheless claimed the initial order set a flawed precedent.
The Court of Appeal asserted that the mother’s original claim did fall under the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts as it concerned the subjective rights of children based on international law instruments. Furthermore, it ruled that the court of first instance did not exceed its jurisdiction by ruling that the children should be enabled to travel to Belgium even though the conditions of national law were not fulfilled, as it did so to avoid violations of their rights provided for by international law. On the other hand, the Court agreed with the Belgian State that the requirement of urgency for a summary procedure had not been fulfilled.
Brussels First Instance Tribunal, G. v. Kingdom of Belgium, 19 December 2018
This case concerns a mother suing the Belgian state to enable the children she had with an Islamic State fighter during her stay in Syria, to travel to Belgium. The mother, who is detained in Turkey, used to have the Belgian nationality but currently only holds the Algerian nationality. The children were born in Syria but are living in Turkey and are de facto stateless.
According to the Court, the children had a sufficient connection with neither Syria, Turkey, nor Algeria. By contrast, there was a factual connection with Belgium. Furthermore, while it could be argued that, pursuant to the Convention of 1954 Concerning the Status of Stateless Persons, the claim to obtain travel documents should be directed to the Turkish government, this could not be expected to happen in practice.
Furthermore the Court ruled that, even if there was no specific legal ground obliging the Belgian State to provide the requested travel documents, the State nonetheless had an enforceable legal obligation to act, in light a range of commitments made, such as the general principle of aid and assistance to one’s own nationals, articles 50 and 75 of the Belgian Consular Code, the Convention of 1954 Relating the Status of Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Right of the Child, and article 8 of the ECHR. The Court accordingly ruled the claim to be well-founded and granted the requested provisional measures.