Top EU Court Toughens Stance on Asylum Seekers

  • Asylum seekers can be barred if connected to terror network
  • EU top court guides Europe on when asylum bids can be rejected

European Union nations can reject asylum seekers if they have direct or indirect links to terrorist activities, the bloc’s highest court said just days after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a ban on people from some mainly Muslim countries.

EU nations can justify excluding people who committed terrorist acts, or who engaged indirectly in the planning or preparation of such acts, the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled Tuesday.

“An application for asylum can be rejected if the asylum seeker has participated in the activities of a terrorist network,” the court said in a press release. “It is not necessary that the asylum seeker personally committed terrorist acts, or instigated such acts, or participated in their commission.”

The ruling comes just days after Trump in an executive order blocked citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Syria and Yemen, from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The decision caused a global outcry with world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, denouncing such actions in the name of fighting terrorism.

The EU court’s decision Tuesday had been referred from Belgium with questions related to the application for asylum by a Moroccan national, who had previously been convicted for participating in the activities of a terrorist group. In March, 32 people were killed in a pair of attacks at the Brussels airport and a city subway station.

The facts in that case are “of particular importance” given the man’s actual conviction, the EU court said, and such past actions must be part of the individual assessment “by the competent authority.”

The case is: C-573/14, Lounani.

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