ICJ intervenes in a case on access to visa for Syrians at a Belgian embassy in Lebanon

The ICJ intervened in the case Nahhas and Hadri v Belgium in front of the European Court for Human Rights in a case of a Syrian family applying for a visa at a Belgian embassy in Beirut.

The ICJ together with partner organisations (DCR, ECRE, AIRE Centre) submitted that there is an extra-territorial jurisdiction over persons when a state is issuing visa at its embassy, and that there might be positive obligations for the States to issue such visa when refusal would leave the applicants at a real risk of exposure to violations of Article 3 ECHR. Best interests of the child must underpin all decisions taken by the state.

In particular:

  • Jurisdiction exists in a number of extra-territorial situations, including where the State exercises authority or control over persons, including decisions of diplomatic and consular personnel on the issuance of visas to third country nationals.
  • State responsibility may thus be engaged when refusing treatment of a visa application, in circumstances where the State is or ought to be aware that applicant if returned faces a real risk of serious Convention human rights violations, in the absence of available alternatives that would prevent such outcome.
  • To comply with their obligations under the Convention, Contracting States are prohibited from refusing to issue visas to travel to their territory when requested by those who have an arguable claim that he or she is at real risk of an Article 3 violation in a third State. This is particularly the case if no other legal route to safety exists and where if denied such visas, refusal would leave the applicants at a real risk of exposure (whether directly or indirectly) to violations of Article 3 in the third State and the Contracting State from which the visa is requested has (or ought to have) knowledge of the risks in question.
  • Article 3 of the Convention read in the light of Article 3, 22 and 37 of the UNCRC requires that the best interests of the child underpin all decisions taken by Contracting States with regard to children, and that Contracting states ensure the child’s protection and give separate consideration to the child’s interest. These standards apply to decisions on visa applications made by children and their parents at the embassy of a Contracting State.

Please find the full intervention here:Belgium-Nahhas Intervention-Advocacy-Legal Submission-2018-ENG

AdvocacyLegal submissions