X (Albania) v Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides, CGRS)
BE: CALL held that second instance procedural changes due to COVID-19 measures comply with procedural guarantees
The applicant's first application for international protection was rejected by the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) on 14 August 2017, which considered that the applicant is a national of a safe country of origin, that there were numerous contradictions in statements and that the applicant did not demonstrate a lack of protection in her country of origin. The appeal against that decision was dismissed by the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL) on 10 January 2018. The applicant lodged a subsequent application, claiming the same problems with her father in the country of origin, and that she built a life in Belgium. The applicant did not provide additional documents. In addition, the applicant claimed that her access to justice, the right of defence and equal treatment are restricted due to COVID-19 measures affecting the courts' activities (extension of time limits and use of the written procedure).
The CALL dismissed the complaint holding that the difficulties encountered in organising meetings cannot be equated with the impossibility of doing so and that hearings are taking place at a slower pace due to the COVID-19 protective measures. It further held that the applicant did not demonstrate how the right to equal treatment is infringed and that by allowing a written procedure, a greater number of actions can be dealt with within a reasonable time. Thus, the changes in proceedings imposed by the exceptional COVID-19 measures comply with all the procedural guarantees provided for in the EU Charter and the ECtHR.
COVID-19/Emergency measures; Effective remedy; Second Instance determination;
Raad Van State (Council of State Official Website)
Belgium, Council for Alien Law Litigation [Conseil du Contentieux des Étrangers - CALL], X (Albania) v Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides, CGRS), case no 237374 , 23 June 2020. Link redirects to the English summary in the EASO Case Law Database.