Asylum seekers cannot be deprived of food, housing or clothing as a punishment for breaking the rules of their reception centre.
the European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday in the case of an under-aged Afghan national in Belgium.
The complainant was housed in a reception centre after filing for asylum.
There, he was involved in a brawl with residents of different ethnic origins. Afterwards, the director of the centre withdrew his material aid for 15 days.
During this time, the complainant said he spent his nights in a Brussels park and stayed with friends.
His legal complaint was initially dismissed.
But he appealed and the case was referred to the European Court of Justice, in particular to clarify whether such sanctions can be imposed on an unaccompanied minor.
Under EU rules,“ Any sanctions must be objective, impartial, motivated and proportionate to the particular situation of the applicant and must, under all circumstances, ensure a dignified standard of living,” the Luxembourgbased judges found.
“The withdrawal, even temporary, of material reception conditions relating to housing, food or clothing would be irreconcilable with that requirement,” they said,
Noting that this would not meet basic needs and would be disproportionate.
“Member states are required to guarantee continuously and without interruption a dignified standard of living,’’ the court said.
“They cannot simply provide an applicant who has been excluded with a list of private centres for the homeless.’’
However, an asylum seeker could be moved to a different part of the accommodation centre, transferred elsewhere or even detained, the court found.
It noted that special care must be taken with unaccompanied minors, as they are considered vulnerable.
(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim)