List of safe countries of origin approved by Council of Ministers
At the request of Maggie De Block, Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, and Didier Reynders, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Ministerial Council approved list of safe countries of origin.
As foreseen in the law, a detailed advise of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRA) was asked.
This list of safe countries of origin is part of the asylum policy of Maggie De Block, State Secretary for Migration and Asylum, which include faster and high quality asylum procedures.
Asylum applications from these countries will be processed at first instance by the CGRA within 15 working days and the appeal will be accelerated. The concept of a safe country of origin was introduced into Belgian Immigration legislation by the Law of January 19, 2012. The list must be reviewed annually and can be adjusted. The list shall also be communicated to the European Commission.
On the adopted list are provisionally seven countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and India.
Secretary Maggie De Block states: "For the first time Belgium has such a list and the purpose of this list is to lower misuse of asylum procedures, for example by economic refugees. In addition the list should make it possible to handle faster the asylum applications from people from safe countries of origin and this will therefore decrease the pressure on the reception structures. The Cabinet has made a decision based on a well considered advise of the Commissioner-General based on a thorough analysis of the origin countries. However an individual and thorough examination of the asylum application will be retained "
A country of origin is considered safe as there is generally no persecution according to the Geneva Convention and there is no real risk of serious harm upon return to the country of origin.
The criteria used to a country considered safe are:
- The general political circumstances in the country of origin;
- The legal status;
- The application of the laws (effective law protection).
This list of "safe countries of origin" Belgium follows the example of other EU countries like the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Germany and Ireland.
The EU directive on asylum procedures of 2005 provides for the possibility of a national list and prescribes strict criteria for assessing whether a country can be considered as a safe country of origin.