Reception crisis in Belgium: second conviction by European Court of Human Rights in 1 month

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) sends two clear signals to Belgium: (1) the rule of law requires that final court decisions be respected and (2) the reception crisis results in a real risk of irreparable harm to prospective refugees in our country.

The ECtHR remanded Belgium for a second time on 1 month to put an end to the degrading situation in which 148 prospective refugees in our country have been for months (Massala et al. t. Belgium, 15 November 2022). 

By the reception crisis candidate refugees (mainly in Brussels) end up on the streets. In practice, the international standard 'bed-bath-bread' has crumbled into an invisible and, above all, unfeeling ideal. 

Brussels labour courts had earlier ruled that fedasil reception (according to international standards) should provide for the candidate refugees. 

The ECtHR now obliges Belgium via a urgent interim measure (Rule 39) to enforce the final decisions of the labour courts and end life on the streets. 

The ECtHR goes a step further and requires Belgium to provide reception until the end of the proceedings before the ECtHR. 

This decision was exceptionally taken (and thus supported) by seven judges at the ECtHR. 

This conviction comes two weeks after the decision in Camara t. Belgium, in which the ECtHR made the same decision in respect of 1 man. 

It non-compliance of the provisional measure may have the effect of exposing Belgium to a additional sentence under Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECtHR has consistently held that failure to comply with a provisional measure prevents the person concerned from effectively exercising his/her rights, in violation of the ECHR.