The course of the personal interview
The protection officer interviews every applicant separately. The personal interview is conducted professionally in a quiet atmosphere and can last up to four hours. There is at least one break.
More information on this subject tailored to the asylum seeker can be found on asyluminbelgium.be in 9 languages (Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Pashto, Farsi, Tigrinya and Somali).
Purpose and course of the personal interview
At the beginning of the personal interview, the protection officer informs the applicant about the purpose and the course of the interview:
- The applicant’s statements remain confidential
- The interpreter is neutral and bound by professional secrecy. The protection officer asks the applicant if he understands the interpreter.
During the personal interview, the applicant must tell the truth and do everything possible to prove his/her identity, origin, travel route and to back up his/her statements. Among other topics, the protection officer asks questions about the applicant’s identity, the ‘nature’ of the persecution, the reasons for the persecution, the parties involved ('actors') in the persecution, the fear in case of a return and the available evidence. If possible, an applicant must back up his/her statements with documents and (s)he must submit all the identity documents (s)he possesses.
At the end of the personal interview, the protection officer asks the applicant and the lawyer, guardian or trusted person if they would like to clarify some points.
The presence of children
Children older than 1 year can cause distraction. To make sure the interview proceeds in the best possible circumstances for the applicant, it is not advisable to bring children to the interview:
- The applicant can lose concentration or can be inhibited in the presence of a child
- The child may hear painful stories in an unfamiliar environment
- It can be difficult for the interpreter, the lawyer or the parent to concentrate due to a child’s presence.
If both parents are invited to an interview and bring their child with them, they can take a seat in the family waiting room. While the protection officer interviews one parent, the other parent can look after the child.
If the child has not filed an application in its own name and does not go to school or to day care, it would be best for the child to stay with family or friends or a qualified person in the reception centre during the interview of the parent.
If the child accompanies the single parent to the personal interview, a family member or friend can look after the child in the family waiting room during the interview.
To ensure that the personal interview takes place in a quiet atmosphere, we advise not to bring the child to the room where the personal interview with the parent will take place.
The notes of the personal interview
The protection officer writes down the entire conversation (questions, answers and possible problems that occurred) in the notes of the personal interview. The protection officer does not read these notes to the applicant. However, the applicant or the lawyer can request a copy of the notes of the personal interview. They can do this during the personal interview or in writing within two working days after the personal interview. After receiving a copy of the notes, the applicant and the lawyer have eight working days to submit their remarks. These must be written in the language of the procedure. If a specific procedure applies, a copy of the notes of the personal interview can be sent along with the decision.