On the 18th of July 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in its judgment Camara v. Belgium, no. 49255/22. The case concerned Mr. Camara, a Guinean applicant, who lodged an application for international protection in Belgium. The Federal Agency for the reception of asylum-seekers (Fedasil) informed him that he could not be accommodated as the network was saturated, hence, Camara lodged a complaint with the Brussels French-Language Employment Tribunal which ordered Fedasil to secure accommodation on pain of a fine. The judgment became final on the 29th of August 2022, but Camara was only referred to a reception facility on the 4th of November 2022.

The ECtHR highlighted that it cannot ignore that the circumstances of the present case are not isolated and that they reveal a systemic failure on the part of the Belgian authorities to execute final judicial decisions relating to the reception of applicants for international protection. While the Court was aware of Belgium’s difficult situation due to the increase in the number of applications for international protection, it could not accept that the time taken by the Belgian authorities in the present case to enforce a court order aimed at protecting human dignity had been reasonable. It added that this systemic failure had heavily over-burdened the operation of a national court and the ECtHR itself.

Hence, the Court considered that Belgium was not “merely” delaying the judgment, but rather manifestly refused to comply with the domestic decisions. Belgium thus undermined the principle of legal certainty in violation of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). The applicant claimed compensation corresponding to the amount of the penalty payments to which Fedasil had been ordered by the Employment Tribunal. The ECtHR however considered that finding a violation of Article 6 ECHR constitutes sufficient just satisfaction.

Based on an unofficial translation from with the EWLU team