Sipos Szabo v NATO and the Kingdom of Belgium

Brussels Labour Court of Appeal, Sipos Szabo v North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Kingdom of Belgium, 2018/AB/22, Nr. 28 October 2020

The case concerned a medical doctor who claimed an entitlement under NATO’s Civilian Personnel Regulation (CPR) to an indefinite contract and had brought its claims before NATO’s Administrative Tribunal. NATO’s Tribunal ruled it had no jurisdiction to entertain the claims because the plaintiff concluded successive sui generis contracts that NATO was entitled to offer. Those contracts did not bring the plaintiff within the realm of the CPR, while the jurisdiction of NATO’s Tribunal is limited to alleged breaches of the CPR. The plaintiff brought her claims before Belgian courts, host nation of NATO, and argued on the basis of ECtHR case-law relating to the interplay between the right to a judge and International Organizations’ immunity that NATO’s immunity must be set aside because she did not have access to an effective remedy within NATO’s legal system as NATO’s Tribunal declared itself without jurisdiction and arguably did not consider the merits of her claims. NATO’s immunity was upheld before Brussels’ Labour Tribunal and, on appeal, by the Brussels Labour Court of Appeal which agreed with NATO that the plaintiff’s argument was based on a wrong premise, that NATO’s internal justice system was effective and independent, that the plaintiff was heard and received an articulated legal answer to her claims following due process.

Baghouri et al. v Belgium

Brussels Court of Appeal, Baghouri et al. v Kingdom of Belgium, Nr. 2020/******/C, 21 October 2020

The case concerns an appeal against two Orders of the Tribunal of First Instance of 11 December 2019 and 25 February 2020, ordering the Belgian State to provide consular assistance to several children held at the Al-Hol refugee/detention camp in Syria, as well as to provide necessary identity and travel documents enabling them to travel to Belgium.

The appellants seek reform of the contested Order inasmuch as it states that they are not eligible for consular assistance since they cannot invoke Article 9 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) in order not to be separated from their children against their will. They claim that the Order is not in the best interests of the children and violates the CRC, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and Article 22bis of the Constitution. However, the Court of Appeal finds this claim to be unfounded as the parents are not eligible for consular assistance pursuant to Article 83 Consular Code. This is so because they travelled to a region undergoing armed conflict despite a negative travel advice from the Belgian authorities.