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Belgium's daily asylum limit breached human rights

22:21 20/12/2018

Belgium's 50-a-day limit on asylum applications has been thrown out by the country's supreme court for violating human rights, after a complaint lodged by seven refugee organisations.

The Council of State said the restriction "made it extremely difficult to exercise a fundamental right - recognised under the Geneva Convention".

Since 22 November, the Immigration Office in the centre of Brussels had limited asylum requests to 50 - about half the number previously processed in a day.

The policy was announced by then-migration secretary Theo Francken, whose party has since left the federal government.

Applicants would line up outside early in the morning, hours before the office opened. Women and children were given priority.

The Council of State said there was an "extreme urgency" to stop the 50-a-day limit, which had presented "a humanitarian risk". Those turned away would end up in parks or metro stations, reliant on help from charities and NGOs.

"These quotas were apparently illegal," said health minister Maggie De Block, who has taken over the migration portfolio following Francken's departure.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure that no one, and certainly not children, should be left on the streets during this cold winter period.

"The sooner asylum seekers can submit their request, the sooner a decision can be made - and the sooner they will be expelled if they are not entitled to asylum."

The organisations that brought the legal appeal - including Médecins du Monde and Médecins sans Frontières - said in a joint statement: "Concrete measures, such as the opening of additional places in shelters, more staff and proper organisation are necessary to ensure access to the asylum procedure."

Written by The Bulletin