Belgium: controversy over withdrawal of Belgian nationality of children from Palestinian parents

According to information revealed by the Belgian newspaper L'Echo, children born in Belgium to Palestinian parents have been stripped of their Belgian nationality. In letters sent since last August to several municipalities, the Belgian Immigration Office, which is responsible for managing migratory flows, explicitly asks for the withdrawal of Belgian nationality from children, although the extent of the situation is not known. The practice scandalizes associations and also seems to raise legal problems. This comes at a time when Gaza is at the center of international attention.

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While the withdrawal of Belgian nationality for children born to Palestinian parents began in August, controversy has mounted since the war between Hamas and Israel. Here, a protester in support of the Palestinians with a sign reading "we haven't been able to breathe since 1948," in reference to George Floyd, in Brussels, November 11, 2023. © Yves Herman/Reuters

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Brussels, Jean-Jacques Héry

When he heard about these letters from the Immigration Office, the General Delegate for Children's Rights Soulimane Laqdim, who defends the rights and interests of children in French-speaking Belgium, could not believe it:

« This is an unprecedented decision. Some municipalities followed, they sent letters inviting people who had Belgian nationality to come and resubmit their passports at the town hall, and we know that there is one municipality that even sent the police to their homes to collect the documents. This is deeply shocking. »

For its part, the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration assumes responsibility: according to it, because Palestinians residing in the EU regularly travel to Belgium to have children. This is so that they can acquire Belgian nationality.

So why such an argument? Due to a peculiarity of Belgian law, described by Selma BenKhelifa, a lawyer specialising in migration law: "Belgium has signed the Statelessness Convention. So when a child is born to Palestinian parents in Belgium, he doesn't really have a nationality, since Palestine is not recognized as a country in its own right by Belgium. So there is Belgium's obligation to give Belgian nationality to a child to avoid statelessness.


According to her, the withdrawal of Belgian nationality is therefore illegal, since Palestine is still not a recognized State, these children become de facto stateless.

In several law firms, appeals against these withdrawals of nationality are being prepared, they will also invoke the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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