A rare collective protest at the Caricole detention centre after police violence


13 February 2024

Detainees at the Caricole detention centre contacted Getting the Voice Out to report the situation of one of their fellow inmates.    

“In the course of last week, a detainee was assaulted during an attempted deportation. She had applied for international protection in Belgium. After an initial negative response, she wanted to appeal. Her lawyer told her that he “didn’t have time”, even though the deadline for lodging an appeal had already passed. The Immigration Office then organised an attempt to deport her to her country of origin. She returned to the centre after this attempt with her shoes full of holes and a broken hand… We called the centre staff to account. We were told that it was the beaten person who had threatened the police. How can a person handcuffed at the hands and feet threaten the police officers? 

These events led the detainees to launch a protest movement. They are denouncing and demanding change on the following points:     

– Multiple acts of violence perpetrated by the police escorts during evictions 

    “We don’t agree with the way people are beaten up. There are many accounts of violence. A Cuban woman recently told us that she had been hit, threatened and knocked unconscious. She woke up mid-flight. We don’t agree with the way deportations are carried out, human rights are not respected”. 

– Problems with legal support in closed centres

    “When people arrive at the centre, they are given a lawyer. The lawyers say they don’t have time to lodge appeals and thus refuse to do so. The lawyers are simply there to complete a formality. One person who recently arrived at the centre was told that she didn’t have the right to a lawyer. I had to call lawyers myself.

– The right to health denied

    “A lot of people are ill here, and the detention is only making the situation worse.  Other people were in good health when they arrived and are now ill. We’re given pills and they refuse to tell us the name. When I ask, I’m told that it’s not important, that it’s not a medicine and that it will help me sleep. There are only nursing staff in the centre. We ask for doctors but we never see any. Many people are traumatised and that has consequences for their health. We eat bread from morning to night, how do you expect us to be in good health? 

“After all of that, it’s just too much”.

Outraged by police violence and the treatment they receive, the detainees have decided not to go to the refectory this Tuesday 13 February 2024.

“We won’t be eating all day, we won’t have access to the internet, we won’t be using the games room or the gym. There will be no activities all day. We’re all going to gather in a room so that we can stand together and applaud our fellow inmate”. 

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Getting the Voice Out is a reminder of the systemic and systematic nature of the physical and psychological violence used during arrests, detention and deportation. Many people are killed or injured. 


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