12/03/2013: News of closed centre

Good news first

Seven prisoners escaped from the closed centre of Merksplas during the night. The screws noticed their disappearance early morning. The escapees were already far away, vanished into thin air!

One prisoner for whom a second deportation attempt had been foreseen went outside the closed centre of Vottem when the portal was open for visits.

A man detained in the closed centre of Vottem for 3 months got the news that he was naturalised and became Belgian. Nevertheless, the Foreigners Office tried to deport him. Luckily enough, his lawyer reacted rapidly. He was finally released after a few days.

A few expelled people come back to live in Belgium.

A man we had lost track of rang us. He is still detained, he will have been for five months and he has had enough. He already ‘visited’ four Belgian closed centres. He was supposed to be released on March 28th but the Office promised another prolongation of his detention of one month.

Deportations and attempts

Collective flight: A collective flight would have been organised to Albania end of February: one prisoner explained us that the closed centre 127bis was emptied of its occupants in January. Albanians were progressively brought there to then be droven in two police vans to the airport end of February. It seems that the Albanians have left the Caricole.
Apart from that, the 127bis centre was empty at the beginning of January to then be filled bit by bit again.


– A woman from the Ivory Coast experienced a first very harsh deportation attempt. She was to be deported to Cairo where she would have been in serious troubles (because according to the Chicago Convention, it is the aircraft who carries the person to Europe which is responsible, i.e Egypt in this case). She wishes to be offered the possibility to go back to the Ivory Coast as soon as possible even if she has to pay for it!

A Nigerian man who spent 8 months in the closed centre of Merksplas experienced his third deportation attempt . He was accompanied by an escort of ten police officers and was mistreated.

Dallah is deported to Senegal: http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/fr-urgent-2eme-tentative-dexpulsion-de-dallah-sur-le-vol-sn-201-ce-dimanche-0601-2/
“Handcuffed and all, there was nothing I could do”. Back in Senegal, he was detained for 24 hours and one of his friends succeeded in negotiating his release against payment because he knew the police officer. He now lives cloistered because he is still being hunted. His brother is now also imprisoned. He is looking for new contacts to leave the country “I can not stay here, it is too dangerous”, but he considers going to other countries than Belgium.

Five deportation attempts for Mounir: http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/third-and-fourth-deportation-attempts-failed-31-january-2013/

Another Tunisian/Algerian man was taken to the airport with Mounir. He was beaten and he saw everything but he doesn’t dare to bear witness.
One man from Guinea rings us: “They do whatever they want with us here, it is awful. The deportation of Mounir is shocking.” He was ready to bear witness but they deported him the day after.

Message by CRACPE
Yesterday morning, two Tunisian men were taken to the airport, one came back. The detainees told us that the one who came back was in a very bad state. According to the testimony of another person, another dozen of guards of the centre went to their rooms to take them very violently and they locked the others in the red wing.

Intimidation, blackmail, stratagems create a crippling fear in the detained undocumented. It is the aim of these incisive migratory policies.

In closed centres, this crackdown is very tangible. Contacts with the outside world are deterred by the management and staff of the centres and go along with threats and sanctions. As soon as a contact is taken with the outside, for e.g when people in front of the centre try to speak to detainees, the latter are taken away from the windows and they are not allowed to communicate. Despite the “official regulations” in practice one can notice the blatant lack of basic information such as one is allowed to call on a visitor or a lawyer.
Despite these daily repression measures, information is leaking. A few people organised a loud demonstration to show their solidarity with the detainees who reacted positively to their presence by throwing pieces of paper through the windows, shouting, hustling and bustling!

On March 3rd, an Afghan man had been on hunger strike for 15 days. They put him in an isolation cell. Not a single news since then…

The detainees speak of ‘surprise deportation’.

An Iraki man was beaten, they gave him injections by force and put him in an isolation cell. He lodged a complaint with the director of the centre and got deported. Once deported, his complaint will have no follow-up.

New cameras have been installed in the common spaces.

Bruges and Merksplas
Anxiety and fear in Bruges and Merskplas.

They say “it is another world”
“They call us niggers”

Information by a visitor regarding the detention conditions in closed centres:
“I just spoke to a Morrocan woman detained in Bruges. She has been there for two weeks. She was quiet but when she understood that I was from the Ligue she didn’t want to give me her name to get a visit. She says she doesn’t want to aggravate her case. She complained about the following:
– obstructed toilets
– in the common room, the armchairs are dirty and torn-down, and she complained a lot about dirtiness in general
– she cannot accept food from people who come and visit her and is obliged to eat the same food of the centre all the time.
– they don’t do anything, there is no activity organised. Contrarily to the centre in Zaventem where she learnt from a woman who was transferred in Bruges that language courses are being given.
– Currently, there is a pregnant woman who does not see the doctor of the centre. She is not allowed to see a gynecologist.
– Another girl who just got released (or deported?) to the Netherlands lost her baby in the centre! She was pregnant and lost blood during a week after which she lost her baby.

There are currently around 35 women in Bruges.

Other testimonies:
– “We must wake up very early in the morning and then there is nothing to do, even the seats in the sofas are insufficient.”
– “We are not allowed to go back to our rooms but at 10 p.m we must go back and at 11 p.m it is taps.”
– “we are in dormitories of 10 bunk beds, so we are 20 per dormitory!”
– “We are only allowed to go out three times 45 minutes per day”
– “The medical follow-up is a disaster, we must fight to see a doctor”
– “One of the social assistants is very rude and threatens us”.


The closed centre of Vottem will soon have a new wing called “Vottem’s specific isolation wing” that will be reserved for convicted and uncooperative people.http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/vottem-comment-booster-lemploi-dans-la-region-liegeoise/

To be noted: several detainees were arrested after asking for cohabitation or marriage, others are being separated from their children sometimes very young!

“One is forbidden to fall in love or to have children”.
“They arrest for EVERYTHING”
“Serious things happen every day”
“We are going to burn it all”
“If you speak: isolation cell”
“No trust at all in the centre’s staff”
“The law is not respected”
“As soon as one shouts one is beaten”
“They speak bad to us”

A communication by Vottem detainees that remains a hotpot: http://www.gettingthevoiceout.org/communication-from-the-detainees-of-vottem-closed-centre/

Testimonies from Vottem:


Demonstration in front of Vottem centre


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