Today the Court of Justice of the European Union – the highest justice instance – decided to reject the appeal of suspect in link to terrorist asylum claim.
The case of Moroccan national Mostafa Lounani, jailed for six years in Belgium for assisting in forging documents as part of a network sending volunteer jihadis to Iraq.
Lounani applied for refugee status because he feared persecution if he were returned to Morocco. The European Court of Justice ruled that even if someone is not involved in jihad personally or does not support terrorists directly, asylum can be denied for indirect forms of assistance to fighters helping to recruit, organize or supply foreign fighters with equipment.
“…The Court notes, first, that it is clear from the file that Mr Lounani did not personally commit terrorist acts, or instigate such acts, or participate in their commission.
Nonetheless, the concept of ‘acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’ is not confined to terrorist acts. The Court notes in particular that, in Resolution 2178 (2014), the United Nations Security Council expressed its ‘grave concern over the acute and growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters’ and its concern with regard to the international networks established by terrorist entities enabling them to move between States fighters of all nationalities and the resources to support them.
Consequently, application of the ground for exclusion of refugee status laid down in the directive cannot be confined to the actual perpetrators of terrorist acts, but can also extend to the persons who engage in activities of recruitment, organisation, transportation or equipment of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of, inter alia, the perpetration, planning or preparation of terrorist acts. The Court states that the final assessment of an application for international protection is the task of the competent national authorities, subject to review by the national courts.
However, the Court notes, among the factors to be taken into consideration, as stated by the Belgian Conseil d’État itself, that Mr Lounani was a member of the leadership of a terrorist group operating internationally which was registered, on 10 October 2002, on the United Nations list identifying certain individuals and entities that are subject to sanctions and which has continued to be named on that list, as updated since that date. His logistical support to the activities of that group has an international dimension in so far as he was involved in the forgery of passports and assisted volunteers who wanted to travel to Iraq. In the opinion of the Court, such acts can justify exclusion from refugee status.
Further, the fact that Mr Lounani was convicted of participation in the activities of a terrorist group and that conviction has become final is, in the context of the individual assessment that must be undertaken by the competent authority, of particular importance”. Court of Justice of the European Union