Belgium – Council for Alien Law Litigation, 7 May 2008, Nr. 10.947

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF version of SummaryPDF version of Summary
Headnote: 

This case concerned state persecution. The CALL held that when the agents of persecution are national authorities, there is a strong presumption that protection within the country of origin is not accessible, as the authorities are able to pursue a person throughout the entire territory under their control.

Facts: 

The applicant, of Rwandan nationality and Hutu ethnic origin, lodged an application for asylum based on a fear of persecution on political grounds. The applicant’s husband had held positions within the ‘Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Dévelopement’ (MRND). She stated that soldiers had killed her husband in 1997 and that she and other members of her family were regularly persecuted. In Belgium she joined her son, who had been granted refugee status in 2004. The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) , however, found a contradiction in the dates of the disappearance of her children and highlighted  that the risk he faced was localised and that she would be able to live elsewhere in Rwanda. The CGRS also found that based on the account she gave about her travel to Belgium, the asylum claim had been lodged too late. The CGRS therefore refused the application, against which the applicant lodged an appeal before the CALL.

Decision & Reasoning: 
The CALL examined the asylum application from three angles:

(1) Firstly the CALL noted that the alleged persecution was not called into question by the CGRS, who had also not contested that the application was based on the same facts described by her son, who was granted refugee status in 2004. Referring to Art 4.4. of the Qualification Directive, the CALL concluded that there was no doubt that the applicant had been persecuted and that the question now was whether or not there were good reasons to believe that such persecution would not be repeated. The CALL found that, considering the persecution that several members of her family had been subject to, some of whom had been killed or had disappeared, the applicant could legitimately fear to be subject to the same type of harassment in case of a return to her country.

(2) Concerning the possibility of finding protection within the country of origin, the CALL repeated that “when the agents of persecution are national authorities, there is a strong presumption that protection within the country, which coincides with similar concepts such as ‘internal protection alternative’ or ‘possibility of internal flight or relocation’, is not accessible, as the authorities are able to pursue a person throughout the entire territory under their control.” In the case at hand, the CALL found that the CGRS was wrong in concluding that this presumption could be reversed by the single fact that the applicant managed to temporarily escape from the persecution by moving within the country.

(3) Finally, the CALL defined the applicant’s fear as a fear of persecution on the basis of her membership of a particular social group, i.e. the group that is formed by the family members of an executive of the regime that was toppled by the current authorities.
Outcome: 

The CALL reversed the decision of the CGRS and granted refugee status to the applicant.