The claimant, born in a refugee camp in Western Sahara, asserted he is a stateless person within the meaning of article 1(a) of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (although he never made a formal statelessness application) and alleged that he was unlawfully detained under immigration powers, pending deportation. The Secretary of State attempted to obtain an emergency travel document for the claimant from various foreign authorities, yet delays were encountered. The claimant was detained throughout but it was held that the Secretary of State was acting with reasonable diligence, the decision to detain the claimant was not unlawful considering the circumstances and there was a reasonable prospect of removal during the period of detention. The claimant was a persistent absconder with multiple convictions, had been assessed as posing a high risk of harm to the public, and these factors weighed against him when assessing what was a reasonable period of detention.
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.
The applicant received asylum status as a stateless Palestinian, but his request to register his statelessness in the municipal civil records was rejected due to lack of evidence. He has an original UNRWA document and an ID from Lebanon, but they were considered insufficient proof of identity as well as of statelessness. The applicant complained that inability to affirm his statelessness violates his identity rights under article 8 ECHR, as well as his rights as a stateless person under EU law, both of which arguments didn't succeed.