Accelerated procedure

Belgium

Author

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen

General (scope, grounds for accelerated procedures, time-limits)

Belgian legislation does not set out different types of first instance procedures. However, this does not mean that each asylum application is processed within the same time-span. In some specifically determined situations, the CGRS has to “prioritise” the examination of the application and take a decision within a prescribed period of time that can be 2 months, 15 days or even just 8, 5 or 2 working days. While the Aliens Act refers to “prioritised” examination, these procedures also entail shorter time-limits for asylum seekers to lodge appeals. For that reason, they should be understood as “accelerated procedures” within the meaning of Article 31(8) of the Asylum Procedures Directive.

Accelerated procedure

Acceleration is provided by the law in the following situations, whereby the CGRS must take a decision within 2 months after being informed that Belgium is responsible for the application, where:1

  • The application is clearly based on reasons totally unrelated to asylum, fraudulent or manifestly unfounded;2


  • The applicant voluntarily withdraws from the border asylum procedure or does not report to the designated reception centre within 15 calendar days after having tried to enter the country illegally, or he or she does not appear for the scheduled interview or provide the required information without good reason;3


  • The applicant is held in a closed centre at the border or on the territory, or is subject to a security measure or is in prison, and where he or she:4


  • Did not apply for asylum when the border police inquired about the purpose of his or her journey;


  • Has already lodged another application;


  • Has refused to provide or provided false information or documents on his or her identity or nationality;


  • Has destroyed or disposed of identity and travel documents;


  • Has made an application for the sole purpose of postponing or frustrating an immediate expulsion;


  • Has hampered the collection of his or her fingerprints;


  • Has not indicated that he or she has already made an application in another country; or


  • Has refused to make the declarations required at the registration with the AO.

‘Super’-accelerated procedure

Moreover, the CGRS takes a decision within 15 days after being informed that Belgium is responsible for the application, in cases where:5

  • The applicant is detained in a closed centre at the border or on the territory for reasons other than those stated above;


  • The applicant is in prison serving a sentence;


  • The Minister or Secretary of State or the AO exercises an “injunction” and requests priority to be given to an application; or


  • The applicant poses a threat to public order and national security.

Inadmissible cases

As discussed in the section on Admissibility Procedure, the following time-limits apply to cases “not taken into consideration” by the CGRS:







Inadmissibility decision                            

Time-limit for decision

Applicant is an EU citizen or EU accession country national

5 working days

Safe country of origin

15 working days

Subsequent application

8 working days

Subsequent application in detention

2 working days

Refugee status in an EU Member State

15 working days

 

 

 

Exactly the same legal provisions apply to the personal interview in accelerated procedures, including the ones dealing with the admissibility of the application, as to the one in the regular procedure.6 The only difference provided for is that in case of detention, the interview takes place in the detention centre where the applicant is being held, but this has no impact on the way the interview takes place as such.7  Also an interpreter is present during these interviews.

Since June 2016, the CGRS has started conducting interviews through videoconference in some of the detention centres. This is the case for the detention centre of Merksplas where all persons who applied for asylum are interviewed through video conference. This interview is organised the same way as a regular interview, meaning that there is an interpreter present at the office of the CGRS and the lawyer can present in Merksplas to attend the interview. The CGRS will evaluate this practice and extend it to other detention facilities. The video’s itself are not kept on file, and the CGRS will use the detailed report following the interview as the basis.8  The asylum seeker and his lawyer can request for an interview in person when they can provide elements of vulnerability that would justify such a request.9

 

Legal assistance

The right to (free) legal assistance applies in exactly the same way to the accelerated procedure as it does to regular procedure (see section on Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance). Pro Deo lawyers get exactly the same remuneration for similar interventions in accelerated procedures as in regular ones. In order to avoid that crucial time would be lost with formally getting the appointment of a lawyer arranged in time, it is accepted that formal appointment of the lawyer can take place until one month after the actual intervention. 

However, for border accelerated, admissibility procedures and asylum procedures in detention centres, it has been reported that asylum seekers might encounter difficulties in having a lawyer appointed in time due to practical obstacles.

 

  • 1. Article 52(5) Aliens Act.
  • 2. Article 52(1) Aliens Act.
  • 3. Article 52(2) Aliens Act.
  • 4. Articles 52/2(1) and 74/6(1bis)(8)-(15) Aliens Act.
  • 5. Articles 52/2(2) and 74/8 Aliens Act.
  • 6. Article 5 Royal Decree on CGRS Procedure.
  • 7. Article 13 Royal Decree on CGRS Procedure.
  • 8. Information provided by the CGRS: Myria, Contact meeting, 21 September 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kZXWXC, para 25.
  • 9. Information provided by the CGRS: Myria, Contact meeting, 19 October 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2k12InM, para 7.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti