Belgium: CALL overturns revocation of refugee status

Friday, March 11, 2016

This case relates to a national of Guinea who claimed asylum in Belgium in January 2012 based on a fear of persecution relating to the political activities of her husband, as well as on the basis of the fear that her daughter would be subjected to FGM by members of her husband’s family in Guinea. In January 2013, the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) recognised her as a refugee, solely on the basis of the latter reason.

Her husband subsequently arrived in Belgium and claimed asylum. The applicant was also interviewed. The CGRS found a number of inconsistencies and contradictions between the account of the applicant and that of her husband in relation to events immediately prior to the applicant’s arrival in Belgium, namely his occupation, the date of his arrest and the circumstances of his detention. Her husband also stated that they would be able to protect their daughter upon return to Guinea. The CGRS considered that these contradictions indicated that she had attempted to deceive them, which also called into question her fear relating to risk of FGM for her daughter. It therefore decided to revoke her refugee status. She challenged this decision before the Court.

The Court noted that given the gravity of the consequences of revoking refugee status, provisions on this should be interpreted strictly. In this context, the inconsistencies relating to the applicant’s husband’s political problems were not directly linked to the risk of FGM of the applicant’s daughter. It found that the husband’s statements were inconsistent, which indeed led to him being refused protection in Belgium, and it could not be ruled out that he came to Belgium in order to sabotage the applicant’s status and to take his daughter to Guinea.

The Court concluded that the CGRS had not sufficiently established that the applicant had been fraudulent with regard to her personal situation and her inability to protect her daughter from FGM on return to Guinea. It therefore overturned the revocation decision, maintaining refugee status.

Based on an unofficial ELENA translation. The ELENA Weekly Legal Update would like to thank Franz Geleyn for providing this judgment and his assistance with the summary.

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Female genital mutilation
Political Opinion
Refugee Status
Revocation of protection status