The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled on a question referred by a Dutch national court aiming to clarify whether, according to the relevant provisions of Directive 2004/83/EC, an applicant for subsidiary protection had to prove that they were specifically targeted in their country of origin due to their own particular circumstances. The objective of Directive 2004/83/EC is to establish a common asylum policy.

The ECJ held that the applicant need not provide evidence of being at direct risk according to individual circumstances, but that the degree of violence in the applicant’s country of origin can suffice in exceptional circumstances for the competent authorities to decide that a person, if returned to their country of origin, would face a serious threat to their safety.

Belgium has already established a list ranking regions on their degree of violence. The list includes certain regions of Darfur, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Somalia. Applicants from these regions would normally not be expelled to their country of origin.