Detention centres are managed by the Foreign Office, a body that works under the authority of the Federal Internal Public Service. The Foreign Office “manages migration flows” and “applies the law of December 15 1980 and the Royal Decree of October 8 1981 on the entry, stay, settlement and removal of foreign nationals.” (5) Practically, it is the Office that delivers (or refuses) visas, records asylum requests, delivers orders to leave the territory, manages detention centres and sees to it that the “returns” happen voluntarily or under duress (6). It works in collaboration with other bodies such as embassies and consulates, communal councils, federal police services, social inspection, prosecutor offices, etc.
On the ground one can see that the Foreign Office has taken ownership of the decisions on imprisonment and deportation : when a person who is detained in a centre goes to court for his/her release request, asylum request or for a resort, the prosecutor, upon the request of the Foreign Office, almost systematically appeals the judge decision when the latter orders a release.
Then follows a real judicial harrasment against people who should regain liberty.
It is also the Office that decides if someone should be put in an open or closed detention centre while his/her asylum request is being processed. It happens that families are separated to ensure they will not leave the open centre.
“For 5 months I have been going before the court and each time the judge orders that I am let out but the prosecution always refutes the decision and appeals. I don’t know why, I have no previous record with the police.” (Listen to the testimony)
“That day they did not deport me but they separated me from my family and took me to a detention centre. My husband and my daughter couldn’t stop crying and they pleaded with them to let me go, but to no avail. I’ve been here for ten days now and I haven’t heard anything from my husband and daughter.” (Listen to the testimony)
(5) Freddy Roosemont, Foreign Office Director General, on the Office’s webpage: https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/FR/Apropos/Pages/AproposdelOE.aspx
(6) Foreign Office website: https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/FR/Apropos/Pages/Competences.aspx