Quicker, tougher asylum laws win backing
13 July 2006, BRUSSELS — The Belgian Parliament approved two legislative proposals on Wednesday aimed at reforming the nation's asylum procedures and the Council of State.
13 July 2006
BRUSSELS — The Belgian Parliament approved two legislative proposals on Wednesday aimed at reforming the nation's asylum procedures and the Council of State.
The vote went on party lines, with the majority coalition government defeating the opposition parties 84 votes to 42.
The reforms are aimed at improving and accelerating the processing of asylum requests. A filter will be placed in front of the backlogged Council of State to limit the cases it has to issue a ruling on.
And in future, all requests for asylum must be processed within one year and asylum seekers will only be able to lodge one appeal.
No amnesty was awarded to the illegal immigrants occupying churches or staging hunger strikes across the country in support of their residency demands.
Under the scheme, however, the immigration service DVZ-OE will not give an interim ruling on the admissibility of asylums requests.
That task will be transferred to the Commission for Refugees and the Stateless, which will also give a definitive ruling.
An appeal will be permitted in the Council for Foreigners Disputes, which is yet to be established.
The Interior Minister will retain the authority to intervene and grant Belgian residency based on humanitarian grounds.
The legislative reforms also aim to crackdown on abuses of family unification immigration procedures.
In future, family unification migration will only be possible if both partners are older than 21, compared with the current minimum age of 18. The supervision period will be extended from 18 months to three years.
The Senate is expected to give its approval to the reforms by the end of this week.
But the opposition Christian Democrat CD&V has accused the government of missing a great chance to implement solutions to residency problems and family unification migration.
CD&V leader Jo Vandeurzen said the legislation does not clearly state the criteria to be used in granting foreigners official residency in Belgium.
He also said the government was not strict enough on family migration and demanded integration courses for family unification immigrants. The Flemish Parliament approved such legislation on Wednesday.
However, Liberal VLD Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said the reforms to the federal asylums procedure were an important step forward.
"Some say that everything is too strict, others think it is too lenient. That proves that this is a balanced plan," he said.
Responding to CD&V criticism over family migration, Dewael said the Cabinet will approve next week a new plan that will also tighten regulations for EU citizens.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news