March 4. 2024. 6:55

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Belgian parties face backlash over temporary Iran deportation ban proposal

Asylum State Secretary Nicole de Moor heavily criticised the request for a temporary suspension of deportations to Iran that was put forward by political groups from the majority and the opposition on Wednesday.

Asylum issues resurfaced in the public discourse after the Council for Alien Law Litigation decided to suspend the deportation of three Iranians following public outcry due to the their claims they risked death in Iran for having participated in a demonstration against the regime.

In view of the situation in Iran and the risks Iranians run if deported, deportations should be suspended, according to the social-liberal DéFI party (social-liberal), the Socialist Party and the green Ecolo-Groen, who had already presented their stance on the matter. They were then joined by the PTB-PVDA (left), Les Engagés (centre) and the N-VA (Flemish nationalists).

Speaking of the General Commissioner for Refugees and Stateless Persons |CGRA], de Moor “it is independent and scrutinises applications on the basis of verified information.”

“It is not up to you or me to decide on individual cases and on who is entitled to asylum or not. It is up to an independent body,” she told lawmakers during the debate in the Interior Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday.

It is “scandalous to question the professionalism and independence of the General Commissioner for Refugees and Stateless Persons [CGRA] and the judges of the Council for Alien Law Litigation [CCE-RVV],” De Moor said at the debate in the Interior Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday.

In addition to the still unresolved asylum crisis and the Iranian file, the State Secretary finds herself in a difficult position on other issues. At the end of January, De Moor was strongly criticised for her new campaign targeting migrants called “You are not welcome”, reported LN24.

“Unaccompanied minors receive less funding in Belgium”; “Belgium’s policy on assessing asylum applications from Afghans has been tightened”; “You think you have a better chance of getting asylum in another country? This is not true,” read the messages from the campaign.

De Moor’s comments are targeted at asylum seekers who consider going to Belgium despite having to stay in another member state due to the so-called Dublin procedure.

At the same time, leaflets were also distributed to Moldovan asylum seekers who have already applied for international protection in other EU member states. “Belgium will send you back to the EU country where you previously applied for asylum. So there is no point in trying in Belgium after having applied for asylum in another country,” the leaflets read.

Belgium’s relations with Iran recently soured after Iran announced it sentenced Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes for espionage last month after he had been held in solitary confinement for a very long time.

(Anne-Sophie Gayet |