Belgium earlier outlawed bogus marriages and bogus cohabitations, but asylum secretary Francken is now keen to clamp down on a new fraud channel that has emerged in recent years: "We've noticed the number of illegal recognitions, especially by fathers of children already recognised by their Belgian mothers balloon. The sole reason is to obtain a residence permit. After that they never bother about the child" Mr Francken told VRT News.
Anybody recognising a child in Belgium with the sole reason of obtaining a residence permit for themselves, the child's mother and/or the child risks prosecution and a 4 year jail sentence.
The municipal authorities may now refuse any recognition that they deem to be suspect. Fraudulent recognitions may be undone by a court of law. Residence documents obtained in this way can be withdrawn.
Theo Francken: "It's a big step in combating abuse. Using children to obtain residence permits cannot be tolerated."