(CN) – The EU’s top court scolded Belgium on Tuesday for ordering the removal of an immigrant while he was still appealing for refugee status.
Though a copy of the ruling is not available in English, a press release from the European Court of Justice notes that the case arose from an application for international protection that Togolese citizen Sadikou Gnandi filed seven years ago in Belgium.
Gnandi is appealing the 2014 status rejection, but the Belgian Conseil d’Etat put his case on hold so that it could get input from the EU court about the timing of so-called return decisions against unsuccessful refugee applicants.
On Tuesday, the Court of Justice noted that Belgium’s return decision against Gnudi must be suspended while his appeal is pending.
“It is not sufficient for the Member State concerned to refrain from enforcing the return decision,” the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement. “On the contrary, it is necessary, in particular, that the period for voluntary departure does not start running as long as the person concerned is allowed to stay and that, during that period, he is not placed in pre-deportation detention. In addition, the person concerned is to retain his status as an applicant for international protection until a final decision is adopted in relation to that application. Furthermore, member states must allow applicants to rely on any change in circumstances occurred after the adoption of the return decision which may have a significant bearing on the assessment of their situation. Lastly, Member States are required to ensure that the applicant is informed in a transparent way of the observance of those guarantees.”