As from this year, our country will once again lock up children

Caritas International Belgium As from this year, our country will once again lock up children

Soon, children will be put behind bars solely because of their migratory status or their parent’s migratory status even though Belgium had stopped this practice in 2008. This was announced by Theo Francken, Secretary of State of Asylum and Migration, in his general political memo on October 19th, 2017. Currently, Parliament is discussing this memo.

What can we find in this memo ?

In this memo, Mr. Francken explains his plan to detain families with children staying illegally. A detention center that would be “adapted” to the needs of children is currently being built close to Brussels Airport, next to the currently existing detention center. In total, there will be 5 units. Three units will detain families of up to six people, and two units will detain families of up to 8 people.

We would like to underscore that detention is never in the best interest of the child; moreover, research shows the negative impact of detention on development, health, and the well-being of children. In addition, a large portion of experts have denounced the detention of children, and studies show that detention would not help the collaboration between the family and authorities. We are always equally and strongly concerned by the duration of intended detention in this detention center, and by the “types” of family that will be affected.


Once again, we call on the government to make the choice to not detain children for migratory reasons. It is possible to have a return policy without locking up children as shown by cases in Germany and Spain. Please make this choice.

Because we do not lock up children. Period.

More information

The platform Minors in Exile and their partners – Caritas International, CIRÉ, Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, and JRS-Belgium – are not the only organizations against the detention of children in Belgium. Their position has already been cosigned by more than 70 organizations. Notably, among these groups are education networks, youth organizations, and human rights organizations. For more information, please visit

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