Supreme Court, Kingdom of Belgium v A.A., Nr. C.15.0269.F, 29 September 2017
The Belgian Supreme Court overturns a verdict by the Brussels Court of Appeal of 9 September 2014. The Court of Appeal held that, where a national is detained abroad and is the victim of attacks against his or her physical integrity and of violations of jus cogens, Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) impose an obligation on the State to provide consular assistance.
The Supreme Court contradicted this interpretation. According to the Supreme Court, the relevant provisions of the VCCR only create rights that can be invoked by the sending State vis-à-vis the host State, but do not impose an obligation to extend consular assistance to the State’s nationals abroad, and do not confer any right that can be claimed by those nationals. While the fact that a national abroad suffers treatment that contravenes jus cogens obliges the State to employ all measures it deems appropriate in order to put an end to this situation, it does not as such create an obligation for the State to provide consular assistance to the person concerned.