On 21 November 2017, the Federal Parliament adopted a law transposing the EU Asylum Procedures Directive into Belgian law. This law was published in the Belgian Official Journal of 12 March 2018 and came into force on Thursday 22 March 2018.
The law introduces a new terminology for certain concepts in the Asylum Procedures Directive. From now on, an ‘asylum applicant’ is called an ‘applicant for international protection’ and an ‘asylum application’ becomes an ‘application for international protection’. An ‘asylum interview’ is now called a ‘personal interview’. The ‘notes of the personal interview’ is the new name for the ‘interview report’. From now on, a ‘multiple asylum application’ is called a ‘subsequent application’. A number of decisions will also receive a new name.
Besides introducing a new terminology, the new law establishes a procedure to identify at an early stage and take into account any special procedural need an applicant may have. In practice, the CGRS already checked if any special procedural needs were present, but from now on this will be verified uniformly in every dossier.
As a result of the amendments to the law, an applicant or his lawyer will be given quicker access to the notes of the personal interview. From now on, they can request a copy of the notes within two working days following the personal interview. Upon receiving the notes, they have eight working days to communicate their remarks to the CGRS, who will take them into account.
The new law also states that accompanied minors can ask to be heard at the CGRS and that in some cases they can lodge an application for international protection in their own name. This practice, which was already followed at the CGRS, has now been legally embedded. Most accompanied minors have no need to make a statement in addition to that of their parents. Children should therefore not be encouraged to do this unless it is strictly necessary, because an application in their own name represents an additional charge and responsibility for them.
In the near future, the information on our website will be updated in order to integrate the above-mentioned modifications.
It is important to point out that the amendments to the law do not change the way in which the CGRS assesses applications for international protection. Applications were already processed in accordance with most of the provisions of the new law.
After the coming into force of the new law, the CGRS continues, as an independent asylum authority, to guarantee a thorough assessment of every application for international protection.