Applicant is a refugee from Vietnam, whose refugee status was withdrawn after a number of criminal convictions, combined with the fact that he made a safe trip to Vietnam. He applied for a travel document for foreigners claiming that he is stateless or at least that his nationality status is unclear. The authorities maintained that he was still a Vietnamese national, but the Court sided with the applicant, insisting that the authorities should have taken more factors into account in considering the applicant's potential statelessness.
The judgment relies on earlier Constitutional Court judgments that have established that stateless persons who lost their nationality involuntarily and demonstrated that they do not have the right to permanent legal residence elsewhere should get residence rights in Belgium on an equal footing with refugees, and that the necessary national legislation is lacking to give effect to such rights. The applicant has a criminal record and was denied residence rights on that basis, but the Court ruled that criminal convictions are irrelevant for his residence rights, and ordered authorities to regularise his residence until new legislation comes to force that regulates the stateless persons' right to residence.