Brussels- Member states of the European Union can now reject asylum applications for people who have extremist links, the EU Court of Justice said.
The ruling extends to those who provide indirect support to terrorist groups without actually committing attacks.
The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) was ruling on the case of a Moroccan national, who was convicted in Belgium by the Brussels Criminal Court and sentenced to six years in prison on terrorism charges back in 2006.
He was found guilty of procuring false passports for members of a recruitment network that was sending volunteer fighters to Iraq.
In 2010 he requested asylum in Belgium, saying he feared persecution if he was sent back to Morocco as authorities there would consider him a radical Islamist due to his Belgian conviction, a court statement said.
Though the court rejected his claim, he continued to pursue the case and called for assistance from the Belgian Council for asylum and immigration proceedings (CCE).
The CCE said that the Moroccan should be granted asylum as his actions “did not constitute terrorist offenses.”
The council explained that he was a member of the terrorist group, but did not commit a terrorist act.
Belgian legal authorities gave contradictory rulings on the matter, finally landing his case in the ECJ.
The EU court said in its judgment that while there was no evidence he had personally committed or planned a terrorist act, European countries like Belgium had no obligation to offer asylum to a person in his position.
The “exclusion of refugee status is not limited to the effective perpetrators of acts of terrorism, but can also extend to the persons who engage in activities of recruitment, organization, transportation or equipment,” of people travelling abroad to carry out attacks.
On the other hand, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said that his country will contribute to the prevention of terrorism in the Sahel countries Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
“Our country donates 250, 000 Euros within this context. The funding creates the possibility to give several training sessions in the fields of research- and investigative techniques, judicial cooperation and the combat against the financial flows of terrorism,” he said.
“The criminal law framework will be empowered and the authorities can better anticipate the threats of terrorist groups and foreign terrorist fighters in West-Africa,” he added.
In addition to this financial aid, the countries will be able to rely on the expertise of the specialized magistrates of the Federal Public Service Justice, which will be working in Nouakchott and Ouagadougou.