Source description last updated: 21 February 2019
 
In brief: The Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), an independent federal administration and the central asylum authority in Belgium, is tasked with offering protection for persons who are likely to suffer persecution upon returning to their country of origin.
 
Coverage on ecoi.net:
List of publications: Policy Notes.
 
Please note: On ecoi.net, there are two separate sources: CEDOCA and CGRS. While CEDOCA is part of the CGRS, we decided to use the source CEDOCA for COI publications and CGRS for country-specific policy documents.
Covered weekly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-E (all available countries).
 
Mission/Mandate/Objectives:
“The CGRS is an independent federal administration. The task of the CGRS is to offer protection to persons who are likely to suffer persecution or serious harm if they return to their country of origin. The Commissioner General first determines whether the applicant qualifies for the refugee status. If this is not the case, the Commissioner General studies whether the applicant qualifies for the subsidiary protection status. The CGRS studies each request for international protection in an individual, objective and impartial manner, in accordance with the Belgian, European and international regulations.” (CGRS website: About the CGRS - Mission, undated)
 
“The CGRS can protect a person by recognising him as a refugee or awarding him subsidiary protection. A refugee is a person who fears persecution in his country of origin. A person who is at risk of serious harm due to war or violence, or as a result of degrading treatment will be awarded subsidiary protection status.
The CGRS investigates every application on an individual basis. The Commissioner General takes asylum decisions in an independent manner.” (CGRS website: About the CGRS - Mandate, undated)
 
“Open: the CGRS is accessible and works in a customer-oriented manner. Decisions are taken in a transparent manner.
Reliable: streamlined internal procedures and competent employees guarantee a reliable decision for every applicant.
Decisive: the CGRS must be able to anticipate changing situations quickly, e.g. in a country of origin. Speed and quality go hand-in-hand.
[…]
Unbiased: the employees assess every application individually without any prejudices. Personal interests, preferences or feelings have no impact on the decision.” (CGRS website: About the CGRS - Mission and Vision, undated)
 
Funding:
Belgian government funds.
 
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Countries generating asylum applications in Belgium.
Thematic focus: Human rights, humanitarian and security situation in countries of origin of asylum seekers.
 
Methodology:
“In order to conduct harmonised assessments of asylum applications, the Commissioner General draws up a policy. He does so completely independently. […]
The policy themes are very diverse and relate to both legal concepts and asylum profiles, such as applicants for international protection who require special procedural guarantees as a result of their vulnerable profile.” (CGRS website: About the CGRS – Policy, undated)
 
“Themes taken into consideration may include: “Gender-related persecution, Female genital mutilation, Internal flight alternative, First country of asylum, Refugee status in another EU Member State, Cessation and revocation of the protection status, Exclusion.” (CGRS website: About the CGRS – Policy, undated)
 
“A country-specific policy paper provides the main points regarding the policy rules that are applied by the Commissioner General when assessing requests for asylum from a specific country.
A country-specific policy paper begins with a brief, simplified summary of the complex situation in a country of origin. The situation outline only covers the asylum-related aspects of the situation in that country. A non-exhaustive overview is then provided of the at-risk groups in the country of origin. The focus lies on the at-risk profiles that the CGRS encounters during its day-to-day work. In addition, it only covers the policy themes that are relevant for the country of origin or any special policy rules that apply to that particular country. Consequently, a country-specific policy paper does not contain a complete overview of all of the possible issues that may be faced by the citizens of the relevant country of origin.
The policy implemented by the Commissioner General is based on a thorough analysis of accurate and up-to-date information on the general situation in the country of origin. This information is collated in a professional manner from various, objective sources, including the EASO, the UNHCR, relevant international human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, professional literature and coverage in the media. When determining policy, the Commissioner General does not simply examine the COI Focuses, drawn up by Cedoca and published on this website, as these deal with just one aspect of the general situation in the country of origin. The fact that a COI Focus could be out of date, does not necessarily mean that the policy that is being implemented by the Commissioner General is no longer up-to-date.
The policy paper does not reflect the complexity of the asylum application assessment process. When assessing an application for asylum, the Commissioner General not only considers the actual situation in the country of origin, at the moment of decision-making, he also takes into account the individual situation and personal circumstances of the applicant for international protection concerned. Every asylum application is examined individually. An applicant must comprehensively demonstrate that he has a well-founded fear of persecution or that there is a clear personal risk of serious harm. He cannot, therefore, simply refer back to the general conditions in his country, but must also present concrete, credible and personal facts.
A policy paper is published for informative purposes only and is not binding in any way. No rights, of any nature, can be derived from the content of a country-specific policy paper. The information is of a general nature and is not adapted to applicants' personal or specific circumstances. A country-specific policy paper cannot therefore be used as a resource for corroborating an application for asylum or an appeal against a decision made by the Commissioner General.
The information contained in a policy paper is checked as carefully as possible. The CGRS puts a great deal of effort into updating policy papers and ensuring they are as complete as possible. Despite these efforts, it is possible that they contain oversights or inaccuracies. The CGRS cannot be held liable for any direct or indirect damage resulting from access to, consultation or use of the information published in a policy paper.” (CGRS: Policy Paper Burundi, p. 1, 4 July 2018)
 
Language(s) of publications:
French, Dutch and English.
 
Further reading / links:
CGRS: Asylum in Belgium - The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons, undated
https://www.cgra.be/sites/default/files/brochures/2012_asiel-in-belgie_eng_1.pdf
 
CGRS: Assessment of an Asylum Application, 12 May 2015
https://www.cgra.be/sites/default/files/content/download/files/assessment_20150512.pdf
 
CGRS website: Organization Chart, undated
https://www.cgra.be/sites/default/files/content/download/files/organization-chart-2016_eng.png
 
Royal Decree of 11 July 2003 for regulating the workings of and the judicial procedures for the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (unofficial coordination), 11 July 2003
http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&cn=2003071105&table_name=loi
 
ecoi.net source description for CEDOCA, the CGRS’ COI unit: https://www.ecoi.net/en/source/11380.html
 
 
All links accessed 21 February 2019.

Homepage:
http://www.cgrs.be/
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