1. Mental health and medication
The violence of the prison system and detention itself have catastrophic impacts on the mental health of prisoners. Recently, several people have expressed their concern about fellow prisoners who are clearly in great pain:
“They don’t belong here. They need to be treated. This is inhumane. It’s mistreatment.”
“It’s a chemical straitjacket”: Many prisoners told us that they receive medication without any follow-up, and that there is very little information about the nature of the medication and the supposed treatment.
It is also not uncommon for prisoners to denounce the use of medication for repressive purposes to “calm down” inmates who rebel, or, in another context, to facilitate deportation attempts…
“Y. had broken the TV: they took him with 6 security officers and put him in block 5. There he remained very agitated and received 3 injections. Then he came back to our block. He couldn’t speak and he was drooling… We complained and finally they transferred him to the 127 bis so that we wouldn’t have to see all this.”
“And when we say something, the wardens tell us: it’s not us, it’s the Immigration Office that decides.”
2. Attempted deportation of three Algerian men
Three men detained in different detention centres underwent an attempted deportation on Wednesday 05/04/23 on the same plane to Algeria.
Their deportation did not take place and by 11pm all three were back in the centres of Vottem and Merksplas.
We learned that one of them was beaten up by the police after refusing to swallow medicine during the deportation attempt.
“They train themselves to use methods to trap us, we train ourselves to adapt to every change and resist.”
Physical and psychological violence, intimidation, coercion… the police escort does not hesitate when it comes to methods of forcing repatriation.
The Immigration Office is relentless in its desire to expel detainees, even in cases where expulsion is impossible (for example because the embassy of the country concerned does not issue a permit):
“This is unimaginable. There are some who stay in a detention centre for up to 18 months for nothing. Because they don’t know how to expel them or some resist to the end. It’s useless detention.“