Huge backlog in appeal files at the Council for Alien Law Litigation

1 April 2021

In addition to the huge backlog of more than 10,000 files at the asylum services, the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL; Raad voor Vreemdelingenbetwistingen or RVV) - the administrative court that deals with all asylum and migration appeals - also has a backlog of over 10,000 files. It is striking that 92% of the backlog is in the French language register. This was revealed through a parliamentary question by MP Theo Francken to Secretary of State Mahdi.

The backlog at the CALL totalled 10,082 appeals by the end of 2020, MP Theo Francken says. “Of the 10,082 files, 9,224 are files of the French language register. That is 92%. With 858 files, the Dutch language register has virtually no backlog any more. The backlog with French speakers has been a problem for years. However, due to the compulsory parity, there are as many French-speaking judges as Dutch-speaking judges.”

Backlog of 770 asylum appeals: extremely expensive and irresponsible

MP Darya Safaï calls it remarkable that 770 asylum appeals (unlimited jurisdiction) have been waiting for a decision for over six months. “That is 7% of the total number of appeals, but asylum appeals cost a lot of money, as these people are often still in very expensive asylum centres. This really needs to be dealt with urgently. Pending asylum appeals must be processed as a priority because of their huge cost. After all, every asylum seeker is also entitled to free bed, bath, bread and assistance during the entire duration of his or her first appeal procedure, whether or not in individual houses and apartments. Any backlog here is, in fact, unacceptable.”

Abusive appeals

MP Yoleen Van Camp notes that 9,312 appeals are in so-called “cancellation litigation”. “These are mainly appeals against negative decisions regarding family reunification and regularisation applications. Under Theo Francken’s mandate as Secretary of State, the number of appeals decreased by making all applications for residence subject to payment and by only processing the appeal most recently submitted. The inflow decreased as a result, which also led to a considerable decrease in the backlog. Nevertheless, it is still considered good practice in some lawyers’ circles to file an appeal, even if there is no chance of success. Just to be able to stay in Belgium longer. This logic has to disappear. Only appeals with a real chance of success should still be filed.”

Additional judges? Bad idea! However, workload measurement and internal evaluation should be carried out

MP Christoph D’Haese does not think it is a good idea to have additional judges to eliminate the backlog. “Secretary of State Mahdi wants to reduce the backlog further. This is a good thing, but one way he wants to do this is by recruiting additional judges again. This sends the wrong message. The CALL has more than enough judges. The problem is not the shortage of judges. The problem is that there is far too great a difference in work ethics. A great many judges work very hard, including French-speaking judges, let that be clear, but some work much less. These judges, who have been appointed for life, cannot be sanctioned in any way. There are no disciplinary measures at all. That has been a very difficult area for years. Together with Theo Francken, Yoleen Van Camp and Darya Safai, I submitted a bill to finally be able to sanction the judges of the CALL if they do not take their important task seriously. This is based on the existing disciplinary measures within the Council of State. I am going to request that our bill be handled urgently. In addition, a proper workload measurement must first be conducted.”

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