For several weeks, young people, sometimes very young, are being arrested on their migratory road in Belgium and retained in closed centres.

‘He has no hair on his chin, Madam’, says one co-retainee.

They have to go through a bone test in the week following their retention. Some are diagnosed as being major and reamin in closed centres (even though bone tests have an error margin of 18 months), others are diagnosed as minors, released and left on the loose or transferred to a MENA centre, sometimes after one month of retention.

As an example:
-Two young people of 17 were diagnosed majors and retained in closed centres for 48 days to then be deported to their Dublin country.

-One young man was retained for 15 days and released without explanation, without document, not even the result of his bone test.

-Another one, 16, has been retained in the 127bis centre since 21 June 2019.

Other similar situations of young people are communicated to us by hosts of the citizens’ platform.

How many others are being retained in closed centres despite their minority, in total secrecy?

What are these young people experiencing in these prisons (let’s call them that way), confined with adults who are as traumatised as they are, and with guardians who are rarely friendly and sometimes even deeply racist?

The campaign “On n’enferme pas un enfant. Point” ( ) and #NotInMyName supported by a lot of associations and citizens enabled the closing of the family units in the 127bis closed centre.

Overview of some of the actions of “On n’enferme pas un enfant. Point” in 2018

– Manneken pis gathering 15/08/2018:
-Occupations of the site of family units 20/06/2018 video

Let’s also recall that the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989 includes an article specifically devoted to migrant and refugee children (art. 22). It says: States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance …
The medical test includes a triple radiography of the teeth, clavicle and wrist. The test result generally indicates an average age, with a range of one to two years. The law foresees that it is the lowest age that should be taken into consideration.
Article 28 of the Code of international private law, the certificates establishing the birth date have a conclusive force unless consistent evidence enable to reverse them. To question the age of a person on the basis of their sole physical appearance therefore clearly raises the issue of the legality of expressing such a doubt.

The Foreigners Office seems to be totally outside of the norms and recommendations with the only will to retain as many children as possible! Is someone checking their deeds? In the meantime, they do not hesitate to continue retaining other children in total secrecy, at least they believe it!

Call to migrants and undocumented, to hosts and staff of the different centres: warn us about these horrific retentions!

Call to the associations and collectives: protest against these intentional abuses on children! Direction générale – M. F. Roosemont, T 02 793 80 31 (NL – EN) – 02 793 80 30 (FR)
F 02 274 66 40

ONLY ONE SOLUTION: stop imprisonments just because they do not have the right document and it will avoid any mistake, manipulation, lie, doubt, mistreatment, suicide, trauma, fear, etc.

Let them live!


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