Preamble : The detainees currently provide us with very little information on the situation in the closed centres (detention centres) it is only once released or deported that tongues are loosened and that they give us the information they want to make known.It seems that in the majority of centres a watchword has been given to guardians : be friendly and polite .
“There are even those who smile, but you know the type of smile that showsthe teeth. We feel that this is false “
Following the death of the young Ivorian in the detention centre of Bruges, hunger strikes cascaded in most detention centres also successive evasions then, as a result, security in some centres has been strengthened .
But the deportation machine remains well oiled, and the number of evictions is industrial : “In our centre , every day there are a dozens who leave and ten new arriving “
A Congolese told us : “This is dictatorship in your country. Now I understand why the dictatorship prevails in Congo: it is you who have imported it and you obviously continue supporting it ! “
Arrests take place at all possible stages of the migrants’ journey without any coherence nor ethics, because it increases the figures!
– The negative results of the regularisation campaign of 2009 fall daily. People who introduced a regularisation request are frequently arrested and learn, during their arrest or upon arrival in a closed centre that there is a negative answer to their request . A Congolese woman living amongst us for 8 years says, ” they came to my home to tell me that I had to accompany them for information on my proceeding for regularisation. Once at the police station they put me in a cell and from there sent me to a detention centre “
– Is a request for legal marriage or cohabitation a risky behavior ? Many foreigners are being arrested at their home after introducing a simple demand for marriage or cohabitation . They are systematically suspects for the adminisration, which tracks “Marriages of convenience and statements of legal cohabitation of convenience” showing often a close to paranoia zeal. And if some of these “fake couples” later on get conjugal visits once a month at a detention centre, don’t see any inconsistency in it!
After his marriage application a man has spent more than five months in a detention centre . After several attempts of deportaion and administrative apeals, the town agreed to his wedding. So he was released after five months of detention. Di Rupo is in favour of the wedding for all … almost all! Another refugee whose marriage had been accepted and the wedding date fixed early January, has been deported to Iraq a month before that date. His wife, pregnant and in a precarious health, must now make the trip to manage getting married eventually. “The law is the law” says Maggie, wishing she could count the mother and the unborn child in her gruesome accounts.
Other foreigners find themselves being “advised” to go and get married in their country of origin. This advice was given to a person from Guinea living and working legally in Belgium, but who is suspected to wish a “white wedding”. His fiancee is detained at the 127bis centre and continues to hope for a favorable answer concerning their marriage application.
– At the airport, just in transit? Nothing works! Several passengers in transit, who were carrying a visa for another European country and made a stopover in Brussels are being arrested at the airport. They are then quickly and efficiently deported to their country of origin at the taxpayer’s expenses. Welcome to absurd land, but never-mind, as long as it does the trick : boosting Maggie’s figures and surveys show the consequences…
– Try to leave the country without being formally deported:unlucky you, no one escapes Maggie! A man was arrested at the airport in Charleroi, his crime: leave the country himself, since he had received an OQT (Order of Leaving the territory). He found himself detained for 4 months in the closed centre of Bruges awaiting deportation. Just like quantum physics, Maggie’s logic is contra-intuitive but merciless.
– Going to your local administration in appliance with the Belgian law: a little homegrown trap. Frequently we hear of arrests in town halls. SomebigCommunes are excelling in this sport: precarious migrants hunting. A woman was arrested at her townhall (Molenbeek). She came to legalise a document: the employee has found one of her names was different on the document. Suspect element if any, the administration of course never makes errors. Our little zealous employee called the police to report the suspicion. Nobody told us whether he was busysucking a small Vichy tablet at the time! (pastille Vichy are digestive tablets). The woman was taken to a detention centre, then was deported after three months of imprisonment. So do trust your administration, play the game, it will reward you well!
– During driving controls, better drive drunk than undocumented ! Although it is not often mentioned, people are regularly arrested following road controls. An Afghan involved in the current movement of Afghan refugees in theChurch de Béguinage, has been arrested in Leuvenand imprisoned. He was finally released after two weeks, the judge stating in his conclusions that ” the Foreigners’ Office takes irrational decisions.”
–When expulsing from a home, likes to show the multiple facets of poverty ; ” it’s like disco” would she have said. To our knowledge, two people were arrested during the eviction of the Gesù and are currently detained into the centre of Bruges. With Maggie a misfortune never comes alone.
Orders to leave the territory (OQT) atall-will
When the centres are full and deportations are accelerated to their limits, how otherwise make increase the figures wonders Maggie ? A three-letter solution (voters, like dogs, remember short names easily) , that’s good: OQT. Order to leave the territory. They are delivered in spades. Must show that it’s “effective” , let‘s make figures !
It seems that in that era Maggie one could speak of OQTM ( not ” Order Exit Territory Maggie ” but ” Order to leave the Territory Multiple” ). Indeed, OQT becomes downright an identity document for migrants card : “When I’m being controlled, I show my OQTB and it’s OK .” Even “funnier”, those who are detained following the issuing of a OQTB then freed because notdeportable, receive at their release their umpteenth OQTB . Waiting often for the next arrest and the next OQT ! This creates employment (useless servants) but what counts above all … the figures!
Detention, an essential communication tool for super Maggie
As long as the centres are saturated, it’s OK, the maximum turnover is being assured and the detention statistics climb ! Detention often lasts several months and is accompanied by blackmail, physical and / or psychological pressure. This in order to keep pressure on the detainee so that he / she disappears during a deportation or a forced” voluntary return “, evasion (less appreciated by Maggie) or release with OQTB. The aim is to break the prisoner as quickly as possible in order to make her/his space available for the next one. Despite this, detentions that last for 4 months are quite common.
Vis-à- vis the public, detention is used to demonstrate that the hunt for migrants continues steadily, that “illegals” are systematically tracked down,imprisoned, deported. It also works as a deterrent against future migrants “not just in Belgium, goal awaits you and you will be roughly treated. Go and seek asylum in a more hospitable country. “
Asylum: legal proceedings to be limited, reduced and atrophied
The Foreigners’ Office is the one that “registers the application and makes a few screenings ” before even handing the case over to the CGRA (Commissariat général aux réfugiés et apatrides – Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons). It uses all possible tricks to reject these claims , they therefore never even reach the CGRA , and will not be registered as formal requests. If the claim is actually accepted and transferred to the CGRA , it is common that it’s the asylum seeker that finds her/himself arrested and taken to a closed centre.
“You are being put in the detention centre to continue your proceeding. This will go faster. ” This is the new lie used by the Foreigners‘s Office. Once locked up, it becomes very difficult to gather evidence justifying the application for asylum, and thereby increasing the risk of rejection of the application.
Maggie likes to quote the increasing demands of multiple requests as evidence of “bad faith” of asylum seekers.
At the same time, the policy that she is leading is indeed an incentive to introduce massively. Autopsy of yet another hypocrisy: in many centres social assistants say “The only way out of here is to (re) apply for asylum.” And as there is no other solution , each (re) files an application for asylum necessarily accompanied by very few elements and in most cases rejected by the CGRA.
Amazing CGRA statistics / November 2013 http://www.cgra.be/en/news/statistiques_d_asile_novembre_2013.jsp
In November 2013, 1,103 asylum applications were registered in Belgium. This is a decrease of 34% compared to October 2012. Of those 1,103 asylum applications, 352 (31.9% of the total number of applications) were multiple applications. The number of multiple applications decreased by 24.5 % compared to October 2013.
Dublin 2 proceeding : Maggie’s black hole
Dublin procedure seems to be used indiscriminately by the Office des étrangers to prevent new claims and increase the number of evictions , but more curiously to increase figures of confinements ! During this procedure,e the refugee will be assisted automatically by a lawyer,having as consequence that he sometimes becomes unable to prove that he is not ” dublinisable ” .
A significant number of detainees are ” Dublin ” cases. They are usually arrested at the Immigration Office when applying for asylum. If there is the slightest chance that he/she can be the called Dublin case, he/she will then be transferred directly into a detention centre. There the waiting begins for an answer from the European country which would have been passed before reaching Belgium. Can then be used as evidence the statements of the refugee’s visa, an air ticket, fingerprints kept in that country etc… If that third country agrees to give its ” support”,the refugee is then deported. His application for asylum in Belgium will thus not be recorded: great indeed, this means an application for asylum less and a deportation more, Maggie is thrilled as is herovercautious electorate.
Sometimes the situation turns into an absurd tragicomedy. Recently, a man who had made an application for asylum was called to the Office. He must come and get the documents needed for his voluntary return to France, where he introduced a first asylum request that was agreed to be processed by that country. He went to the Office with his luggag, ready to return to France , thinking to take the train straight after leaving the offices. However the administration has reserved a surprise: he is being arrested and locked in a detention centre.
Another person is for three months in a detention centre. He was arrested when he came to Brussels to request a copy of his OQTB necessary for its application for asylum in France !
Yet another one came to seek asylum : he was arrested and imprisoned under the Dublin procedure. Fortunately, he had the chance to prove that it was not justified and was released after 15 days.
Embassies tours, sometimes it’s like playing Russian roulette.
To evict you need a pass from the embassy of the country of destination. The Office put in every effort to achieve this, always contempt for man and woman, sometimes in defiance of the law (the law is the law” but not for everyone! A national of Zymbabwé was trapped for more than 4 months. He was visiting Brussels , wanting to travel to the United Kingdom when he was arrested . The Office tries to deport at any cost. As the Zymbabwé embassy does not issue passes, the Office des étrangers went successively to the Embassy of Angola, Guinea and the DRC. The man is desperate and begs to be sent home . He does not want to hear about Europe. He was finally released with a OQTB.
A “representative” of the Embassy of the DRC went to 127bis centre , pre-signed passes under the arm. He came to ” identify ” the detainees. Thus, even before seeing them, he had the necessary document to have them deported to Kinshasa. According to several witnesses, this man from the embassy was carrying the asylum claims files during the “identification” interviews. For political opponants this is the best way to ensure that they will suffer mistreatment at least, not to say prison or just to “disapear” after arriving in Kinshasa…
Evictions : an aim in itself, a symbol sent to electors: Deport at any price just to increase the numbers!
Evictions are daily and become more commonplace in the centres : ” Soon it will be my turn madame.” Many prisonners, after several months of detention and legal struggle comply with these expulsions under the threat of violence and under blackmail.
“If you resist you never be able to return to Belgium” they are told .
“Here they are wild forced expulsions and cascades of negative outcomes concerning our procedures “
The determination has no limits ; an Afghan has been locked without understanding what was happening and the reasons for his detention. A fellow prisoner knowing our language has asked to see his papers and found out that they were concerning a completely different person, the names were not corresponding ! This is a good example of how the investigation ” case by case ” highlighted by Maggie to justify her expulsion actually works.
Former prisonniers are expelled, sometimes directly from the prison, sometimes after a transfer to a detention centre. They are expelled without any consideration of their families or situationsleft behind in Belgium and are forced to leave!
Read on the website of the OE “A working group consisting of the Foreign Office and the Federal Police Brussels National Airport was created It examines how a foreigner can best be satisfied . return without resistance and without constraint ( escort ) .” It is not however clear whether the currently used techniques such as deception, lies, blackmail , threats, and physical or psychological pressure will be evaluated and refined. The prisonniers testify : “Faster to expel ; they put us in prison and without warning put on a plane . ” In many cases , they are told the night before their deportation the next morning without being able to talk and inform anyone.
Finally, again and again, young Afghans are deported to a “safe country” Afghanistan, for which the Ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs are warning about the dangers .
Collective deportations : an industrial view of deportation , as carried out by Maggie by Europe ( Frontex):
On the 21st of November 2013, a collective deportation to Eastern Europe took place. A dozen people were taken to the detention centre 127bis in the late evening and put in detention . Very early in the next morning, they were transferred to the airport in police vans and deported .
Collective deportation to Congo on the 4th of December 2013. 52 Congolese were on the list ..30 were deported. From the information collected, many were then interviewed by the authorities upon arrival in Kinshasa. The authorities confiscated their passports, people remain waiting in Kinshasa, often hidden for fear of further reprisals. An Angolan is still at Kinshasa. It is impossible for him to return to his country without a passport.
Information on the fate of expelled people remain very fragmented : the contacts we have with the family members have become more discreet, giving the impression that they fear to speak. The detainees who were on the listnot yet deported are now gradually deported by civilian flights .
Evasions : another well kept secret: They are not in public statistics !
But fortunately they exist. Sometimes with the complicity of remorseful guards .
Merksplas : “The past six months were prisoners attempted to escape : the night they broke tiles , neutralised alerts and climbed the wall. Three were injured and could not get up. Three others have succeeded and left into nature. The guards were alerted by the cries of pain of the three injured at the bottom of the wall, one of them broke his foot. Two of the injured have since been set free.”
127bis Steenokkerzeel : A person tried to escape through the door during the visits, but was unfortunately caught .
Vottem : On Wednesday, 18 December 2013, three prisoners tried to escape by breaking the windows of the lounge they were caught, the lounge room is currently unusable due to the damage.
Releases one more little secret hatched by Maggie : Not in public statistics !
More than 30 % inmates are released after a period ranging from a few weeks to 8 months imprisonment.
The list is as long as your arm ; extracts: two Guineans released after eight months of detention, with a OQTB . Release of a Guinean woman after 4 months, always with OQTB… and nationals of Zimbabwe, Afghanistan etc… mentioned previously .
In conclusion, if Maggie applies this very industrial vision of repression and terror against migrants, it’s for the figures and appearance. Everything is pretty good for spreadsheets, pretty graphics, waved to be seen, with as background hollow phrases and shocks speeches. A “policy” always conducted in defiance of the human being, sometimes bypassing the law, often by obscure acts, even plunge people into Kafkaesque situations or wasting the taxpayers’ money as well. This because it is the price of her popularity. But somehow she thinks, who cares ? Any resemblance with a banker (just before the Krach ) is fortuitous …pplications decreased by 24.5 % compared to October 2013.