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Complaint lodged by Human Rights League against government agency FEDASIL and the ministers in charge of reception conditions for asylum seekers

The Belgian Human Rights League, together with asylum seekers denied the right to proper reception conditions, have lodged a complaint against the State Secretary on Social Integration and Fight against Poverty and against FEDASIL (the federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers in Belgium) at the Brussels Labour Court on 28 August 2011.

The complaint is based on the fact that since August 2008 FEDASIL has denied more than 10,000 asylum seekers and foreign minors in an irregular situation (both unaccompanied and not) the right to proper reception conditions, leading them to live in undignified conditions.

The victims argue that they have been left on their own with no psychological support and medical follow-up; no compensatory measures have been taken by the government, although many labour courts have already condemned FEDASIL for not granting places in reception centres.

However, the juges have noted that these decisions were not binding and were therefore not followed by FEDASIL. Instead, the agency booked places in hotels, thereby fuelling the public perception that asylum seekers are hosted in privileged conditions. This is far from the case. Generally, these hotel rooms are "owned" by what the French call 'sleep merchants' (marchands de sommeil), a class of landlord whom many consider take advantage of impoverished tenants.

FEDASIL has advised people in need to turn to the Public Centre of Social Action (Centre Public d'Action Sociale or CPAS), but the organisation has been either unwilling or unable to help. The CPAS of Brussels has been condemned many times but still refuses to apply the decisions made by the judges.

Meanwhile, complaints have also been lodged with the Federal Ombudsman, who has fiercly criticised FEDASIL's practices. Unsurprisingly, a deaf ear was turned to his criticism.

The Human Rights League has previously instigated legal proceedings against the CPAS of Brussels. The continued provision of undignified living conditions increases the vulnerability of people already suffering from deprivation and legal uncertainty (some being handicaped, others still children). The current complaint against FEDASIL and its parent ministry is a further attempt to have violations of Belgian, European and international law recognised and sanctioned in court.

Human Rights League, 'Une plainte déposée par la LDH contre FEDASIL et les Ministres en charge de l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile', 26th August 2011

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