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 Court of Appeal, Prosecutor v A.I., B.H. et al., 2017 FC 1, 26 February 2019
The case concerned several individuals accused of terrorist offences on account of their alleged involvement in a terrorist group operating in Chechnya. The Court held that Article 6(3)(a) ECHR (the right to a fair trial) does not imply that the indictment must state all the concrete information from which the existence of the personal involvement of the accused can be derived. In casu, the charges were sufficiently clear and unambiguous. The Brussels Court of Appeal held, however, that there were no indications that the defendants were indeed guilty of the crimes charged. Accordingly, there was no need to inquire whether the ‘terrorism exception’ of Article 141bis of the Belgian Criminal Code, relating to acts of armed forces during an armed conflict, was applicable.
Supreme Court, A.N.H., Nr. C.18.0400.N, 18 February 2019
The Court holds that a ‘State’ can be said to exist when the criteria laid down in the 1933 Montevideo Convention are fulfilled, and that the creation of a State is, in principle, not contingent on its recognition by other States. In light hereof, the Ghent Court of Appeal did not err in regarding the claimant as a Palestinian national, rather than a Stateless person. In particular, the Supreme Court rejects the claimant’s argument that Palestine could not be qualified as a State due to a lack of recognition by the international community.
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.
Brussels Court of Appeal, M.-N. F. et al. v M.L. et al., Nr. 2011 AR 292, 8 June 2018
In the early days of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, an estimated 2.000 men, women and children were massacred when a Belgian contingent of the UNAMIR peacekeeping operation abandoned the school facility where these persons had sought refuge. In the appeals procedure brought by the Belgian government as well as three former officers of the Belgian ‘KIBAT’ contingent against a prior interlocutory judgment, the Brussels Court of Appeal examined to whom the conduct of KIBAT may be imputed. In so doing, the Court affirms that responsibility for the conduct of UN peacekeepers can shift from the United Nations to the Troop-Contributing Country (TCC) if the latter exercises effective control over its national troops. The Court further draws a comparison with the conduct of the Dutch UNPROFOR battalion in the Mothers of Srebrenica proceedings in the Netherlands, but finds that the circumstances are different. In particular, it has not been established that the KIBAT soldiers left the ‘ETO’ school facility pursuant to the decision of the Belgian Government to withdraw from the UNAMIR operation. According to the Court, the imputability of the conduct of KIBAT did not transfer to the Kingdom of Belgium, as the UN retained effective control over its own troops. Consequently, the Belgian officers who gave the order to withdraw from the ETO school facility did so in their capacity as members of UNAMIR and enjoyed immunity from jurisdiction, whereas the claims brought against the Kingdom of Belgium were unfounded.
T. RUYS, L. FERRO, "Wie is verantwoordelijk voor het optreden van VN-blauwhelmen? De Rwandese genocide en de Belgische terugtrekking uit de Ecole Technique Officielle Don Bosco", Rechtskundig Weekblad 2020, Vol. 83, 1516-1519.
T. RUYS, "Mukeshimana-Ngulinzira and Others v. Belgium and Others", American Journal of International Law 2020, Vol. 114, 268-275.