05/08/2017: Mid May 2017 the Council of Ministers have approved a masterplan “Detention centres for illegal residents”. The masterplan provides a big extension of the existing return capacity and the creation of three new dentention centres.
“With this masterplan we will be able to repatriate much more illegal migrants. This will make the idea of becoming an illegal resident less attractive. The time when the order to leave the territory was nothing but a rag of paper will soon be behind us. This [our] government does not regularize the criminals, we repatriate them.”, says Theo Francken, Secretary of State for Asylym and Migration.
Where and when are these three new detention centres supposed to be built?
In the beginning of January 2013, the federal authorities have bought an ancient Formule 1 hotel in an industrial zone of Holsbeek, in the suburbs of Leuven. Maggie De Block, Secretary of State at the time, wishes to transform the building to a open centre for voluntary return that can host a hundred personnes.
Succeeding Maggie De Block in 2015, Theo Francken closes the centre almost overnight because of bad results. If the voluntary return doesn’t offer sufficient results, it seems logical that the forced returns from detention centres will offer better results. What a beautiful demonstration of nicely measurable migration politics.
The building of the open centre, being built, it is only a matter of updating the facilities to the required safety standards. It can then become a detention centre.
The previous mayor of Antwerp had already asked for a detention centre near Antwerp. The project of a new detention centre in Zandvliet strongly satisfies the current mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever: “Zandvliet is an ideal place because it’s a remote rural zone.” According to De Wever “the center will improve the security and the quality of life within the city of Antwerp, and 150 jobs will be created. It’s interesting to see how a detention centre offers a solution to both migration and economic problems.
Except that a fierce opposition was put in place as soon as the masterplan was announced. The inhabitants gathered 700 signatures to oppose the new centre. The reason? They “are afraid for their own security” and declared to “have become the garbage bin of Antwerp”…
Initially, the detention center was planned to be built on currently abandoned lands which are property of the Flemish government, along the A12 highway and close to the Dutch borders. But now, the town has started negotiating the exact location where the detention centre will be built, basing itself on the intricacies of the spatial implementation plan.
It appears that the centre will be in use much earlier than 2020 because Theo Francken has planned to reuse containers coming from the Tilburg (The Netherlands) prison to accommodate the detention centre.
The biggest detention centre of Wallonia is planned to be located in Jumet (Charleroi). It’s the building of the IPPJ [Public Institution for the proection of the Youth ] which is requested to be transformed into a detention centre with two sections for children (boys and girls). The educators of the IPPJ have expressed their dissatisfaction at finding themselves either “working in Brussels or staying in Jumet as a prison guard
The city of Charleroi supports the project but “regrets the lack of consultation with the local authorities concerning the announcement of the project”, says the Alderman-delegate Françoise Daspremont… but if the different power levels had worked together, would they have adressed the issue of the relevance of building detention centres or would they have simply adressed the details about its location?
We say NO to any detention centre!
And other project: Charleroi Airport for deportation operations
Moreover, the future Jumet centre is explicitly linked by the Government to the possibility of using Charleroi airport as a base for deportation operations, allowing more and more forced repatriations.
Here is Theo Francken’s answer to a parlamentiary question adressed on 28 June 2017:
” Regarding the use of proximity airports; with the federal police services, we are currently considering the possibility of more actively make use of Charleroi airport for the return operations.The project is still embryonic and I can’t inform you at this stage about the additionnal running costs or the related infrastructure costs. A proper collaboration with the federal police services has been been provided to ensure an optimal flow of the return operations.”
Congratulations to Brussels South Charleroi Airport and to the related airlines!!! For how much money will you become accomplices of violent and repressive migration policies?
The following companies contributed to the construction of the closed center in Steenokkerzeel in 2OO9.