Belgium: Grand Chamber set for judgement in Aleppo asylum seekers’ failed visa complaint

A Syrian family, refused humanitarian asylum visas by Belgium will have its human rights complaint judged by the European court’s Grand Chamber, it has been confirmed.

The Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to which the case Nahhas and Hadri v. Belgium (application no. 3599/18) had been allocated has relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber of the Court.

The application concerns a couple, Syrian nationals, and their two children, who were refused the short-stay visas which they had requested from the Belgian consulate in Beirut with a view to applying for asylum in Belgium on humanitarian grounds.

The applicants, Mohamad Nahhas, Bushra Hadri, Omar Nahhas, Taima Nahhas, a married couple and their two children, are Syrian nationals who were born respectively in 1978, 1984, 2011 and 2008, and live in Aleppo (Syria).

In September 2016 the Belgian Aliens Office (OE) refused to issue the visas that they had requested, on humanitarian grounds, from the Belgian Consulate in Beirut.

However, on 7 October 2016, the Aliens Appeals Board (CCE), acting under the extremely urgent procedure, ordered a stay of execution of the Aliens Office’s decisions.

It held that, having regard to the political and security situation in Aleppo, there was a serious risk of a violation of Article 3.

The Aliens Appeal Board instructed the State to take new decisions within 48 hours.

The Aliens Office subsequently issued two new decisions dismissing the requests, the execution of which was again suspended by the Aliens Appeal Board. The applicants lodged applications for judicial review of these decisions, but these were dismissed.

Since the Belgian authorities refused to execute the Aliens Appeal Board’s judgment of 7 October 2016, the applicants brought proceedings before the French-language Brussels Court of First Instance (TPI), which ordered the State to comply with that judgment, subject to a penalty for non-compliance.

The order was upheld by the Brussels Court of Appeal on 7 December 2016.

However, on 30 June 2017 the Court of Appeal held that the judgment of 7 December 2016 was no

longer relevant and that no penalties were due, on account of the outcome of the above-mentioned applications for judicial review.

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