Closed centers for foreigners: an unnecessary evil

Caritas International  Closed centers for foreigners: an unnecessary evil
23/01/2017

Foreign rights organizations (Caritas International, CIRÉ, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Human Rights League, MRAX and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen) have published a new inventory of closed centers in Belgium ten years after the previous. The observation is again very clear: administrative detention centers violate human rights and dignity.

At this very moment, and as for more than 25 years, hundreds of people, both men and women, have been detained in closed centers simply because they do not have the necessary documents to enter or stay in Belgium. The confinement of these persons may take weeks or months, even though they have not committed any offenses.
What is the reality of these closed centers? What are the living conditions of the people there? By publishing this inventory, associations that regularly visit inmates in closed centers want to make it known to the general public what happens inside these places of confinement. Thus hoping to allow everyone to take another look at the closed centers, away from the current political agitation.

This inventory follows a first report published ten years ago. Unfortunately, almost all of the observations made at the time remain relevant and very few recommendations made at the time were implemented. “There is even a decline in respect for human rights: the confinement of pregnant women, sick or elderly people, separation of families, arbitrary detention, difficulties in accessing legal aid, Asylum at the border … the findings are alarming,” deplore the associations.
Detention has extremely serious consequences for the people who suffer and have suffered from it, both physically and psychologically. Not to mention the impact on the portrayal of migrants, already described as criminals as they are locked up in seemingly highly secure places: a misleading picture that fuels the feeling of insecurity in our society and threatens diversity.

Yet, the government clearly makes it the pillar of its migration policy. In his policy note, the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration stated that he wanted to increase the number of places of closed centers and the number of evictions. He even wants to detain children again, which was no longer a legal action since 2008, notably following the condemnation of Belgium by the European Court of Human Rights.
“Based on this state of affairs, we question the compatibility of closed centers with respect for rights, and question their legitimacy: given the persistence and the extent of the blurring of the norm that we see in detention, we call for respect for the fundamental principles of freedom, the rule of law, and the prohibition of inhumane and degrading treatment. We call on Belgium to stop at the very least detaining vulnerable people and asylum seekers, to enshrine in the law an absolute prohibition on detaining children and to establish

It is time to stop believing that administrative detention is a necessary evil and using closed centers in favor of a repressive migratory policy that makes confinement the solution to all security problems.

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