What are the detention centres in Belgium ?

There used to be five detention centres in Belgium. Officially, 628 people could be detained there at the same time.
Since May 2012, a new centre has been opened, it is called “le caricole”. It replaces the INAD and the 127 centres and has a direct access to the airport (see below).


The repatriation centre 127 bis in Steenokkerzeel
 (120 places -2,000 people)
Tervuursesteenweg 300, 1820 Steenokkerzeel onthaalbis@ibz.fgov.be
Tel. +32 2 7550000
Fax. +32 2 7598168
The repatriation centre 127 bis started its operations in March 1994. It is located in Steenokkerzeel, close to Brussels-National airport runways. Like in Vottem, detainees sleep in bedrooms of four.
The persons detained in 127 bis are asylum seekers whose requests have been dismissed and others who are still waiting for an answer from the Foreign Office. Built up like a prison, the centre is divided in four wings and surrounded by a triple row of wire netting. It has isolation cells. The detention conditions have been repeatedly denounced and have led to many revolts (7) and breakouts by detainees. People whose deportation has been planned are often brought to 127bis the day before their flight and are put in isolation cells.

The Centre for Illegal Migrants in Bruges (CIB) (112 places – around 750 people per year)
Zandstraat 150, B-8200 Bruges
Tel. +32 50451040
Fax. +32 50315956
The centre for illegal migrants of Bruges opened in January 1995 in the buildings of the former prison for women called “The refuge”.
Initially foreseen for the detention of illegal foreigners, then also for asylum seekers whose request had been dismissed.
The building that is U-shaped is divided in three wings (one for women and two for men) and it is surrounded by wire netting. In this centre, just like in the centre of Merksplas, all the detainees must wake up, have a shower, take their meals, be in the recreation room, go out for a walk and go to sleep at set times and in groups.
Each group move is made under the supervision of security agents in charge of locking the doors of the spaces where the detainees are. In this centre like in Merksplas, the detainees sleep in big dormitories.

The Centre for Illegal Migrants in Merksplas (CIM) (146 places – around 1,050 people per year) cim.info@ibz.fgov.be
Steenweg op Wortel 1 /A, 2330 Merksplas
tel. +32 14 63 91 10,,,,02 206 15 60
fax. +32 14 63 91 20
It used the be the vagrants’ colony of Turnhout that was reallocated to the ‘illegal migrants” in March 1994, following the abolition of the vagrancy law.
In its walls, only men, illegal or asylum seekers.
The centre is divided in several wings. In the courtyard, a cage “enables” the detainees in isolation to take some air.
See a promotional video for the detention centre of Merksplas in order to recruit new staff (We want to insist that what is shown in this video does not reflect at all the real detention conditions of the people they call “inhabitants”) :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4IsEtjKOf4&feature=player_embedded

The Centre for Illegal migrants of Vottem (CIV)  (160 places – around 930 people per year)
Visé Voie 1, 4041 Vottem
tel. +32 4 228 89 00
fax. +32 4 228 89 13
The centre for illegal migrants of Vottem that became operational in September 1999 is located in the suburbs of Liège. It was built following the model of the 127bis centre. Are detained there the asylum seekers whose requests have been dismissed and other ‘illegal’ immigrants.
The building is surrounded by wire netting and composed of four wings the boundaries of which are also marked by several railings. People sleep in bedrooms of four.
Photos of the centre of Vottem . http://portfolio.lesoir.be/v/regions/liege/vottem/

The new centre – Le caricole :
Chaussée de Tervuren 302, 1820 Steenokkerzeel   caricole.visite@ibz.fgov.be ou caricole.medischedienst@ibz.fgov.be

TEL: 027197110/09
FAX/ 02/759.81.68
The construction of this new detention centre next to the 127 bis centre started in May 2009. It should have ended in May 2010. It was finally inaugurated in April 2012 and has been functional since May 2012.
This new centre replaces the 127 and INAD centres, and it has 90 places.
Its architecture, both external (circular) and internal (individual cells) definitely makes it look like a prison. The prisoners will not have any outside view and the access will be direct between the centre and the airport to avoid transfers through external roads.
Site of the architectural project
Video of a forbidden demonstration against the detention centre Caricole : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kqlCUheERI

The regional INAD centres:
There are also five regional INAD centres in the Belgian airports located on a Schengen border (i.e in Bierset, Gosselies, Deurne, Ostende and Wevelgem). It is rooms where nothing is foreseen to detain people, even during the average deadline of a deportation, generally limited to 48 hours. These places are managed by the Federal police and airports staff.
(7) Like in February 2011 : Link Indymedia : http://bxl.indymedia.org/articles/1092 ;  link RTBF : http://www.rtbf.be/info/societe/detail_rebellion-au-centre-ferme-127-bis?id=5650733

The old ‘transit’ centres : INAD and 127 replaced by the new centre “caricole”
The INAD Centre of Brussels-National Airport (30 places – around 2,000 people per year)
INAD,  which stands for « inadmissible passengers ». Created in March 1995, the centre was at the heart of the transit zone of Brussels-National airport. It was recognised as Schengen’s frontier post. Were detained there people who had been turned back from their arrival to the airport.
The reasons for turning back are multiple: not to be in possession of the documents required to enter the territory (passport, visa) or to justify the purpose and conditions of the stay, not to have sufficient financial means, etc.
On the spot, it is the federal police that assess the individual situations and decide on the turning back.
It had a capacity of around 30 people, deprived of liberty for a theoretical maximum length of seven days, waiting to embark on a flight back.
No lawyer, no NGO could enter the centre. Visits by families were not foreseen. The detained persons had no access to the outside world.
Contrarily to the other centres that apply the rules set by the Royal Decree of August 2 2002, the INAD centre was not governed by any law text or regulation.
Today this centre is theoretically being replaced by the “Caricole” centre.

The 127 Centre (60 places – around 2,000 people)
The transit centre 127 was created in 1988. It is located in Melsbroek, in the compound of Brussels-National Airport. It was made of equipped containers. In its walls were also detained « inadmissible passengers » waiting for a flight back or for a decision regarding their case. Just like in the INAD centre, families could be detained there. They were separated for the night (men on one side, women on the other side), but the days were relatively free.
Today, these people are detained in the new Caricole centre where the same rules are being applied, without any law text or regulation as far as we know.