S, 16 years old, detained in the closed centre of Bruges rather than protected. 14/02/2022

Update 31/01/2021 “the intricacies of the Dublin agreements”

S is still detained in the detention centre in BrugesThe  office des étrangers (Immigration office) estimated that he was 18 years old on the basis of an age definition test, a test with a margin of error of 2 years and still disputed by scientists. S still tells us he is 16…He remains extremely fragile and traumatised.  At the moment he can join his fellow inmates who support him during the day but we heard that he is again detained in isolation.
The social worker first told him that he would be deported to the Netherlands, then to SpainIn fact, he has travelled around Europe and has left his fingerprints in several countries.
At present he is told that he has to go  to the Algerian embassy, which is very frightening for him.
Faced with these uncertainties, he can’t take it anymore and demands his release.

A new illustration of the lack of humanity of an administration which, too often in silence, destroys lives. An administration which, once again, only applies the law when it comes to punishing, locking up and deporting, . Even if it means locking up a minor.

On 10 January, a prisoner at the Bruges detention centre told us that he had met a young man in great pain during a “walk”. According to him, this young man is a kid. He is Algerian and was born in 2006. He was arrested at the beginning of the year in Ostend by the police. Without papers, speaking neither Dutch nor French and having rebelled in the police station, a policeman decided to call him an adult and arbitrarily attributed an age of 20 to him. Frightened, alone, not understanding what was happening to him, he agreed to sign the documents in Dutch that were presented to him without translation. Among these documents, a declaration in which he confirmed – in Dutch – that he was born in 2002. The trap was sprung, and the teenager was transferred by the ‘Office des Étrangers’ to a detention centre to be held as an adult.

When he arrived at the centre, already in great psychological distress, S was placed in medical isolation, with only 30 minutes of fresh air per day. His telephone is not left with him, and he will only have access to it depending on the “goodwill” of the centre’s management. Confined to his cell, with no contacts, unable to communicate with the staff, completely isolated even though he is already very disturbed, his situation deteriorating rapidly.

Invisibilised by the administration – which always prefers to hide what happens in the centres, and especially the daily violence – it took, once again, the appalled testimony of a fellow prisoner for S’s scandalous situation to be brought to light.

We notified a lawyer as well as the Kinderrechtenkommissariaat. and the children’s rights officer, hoping to have S’s right to protection respected as soon as possible, which starts with his release. But this may not be enough in the face of the obstinacy, racism and dishonesty that characterise an administration that seems to have lost all humanity, a psychopathic administration.

This 14/01/2022 we learn that the management of the centre have decided to prevent him from any contact with the other detainees and he no longer answers his phone!

It is high time to close the detention centres, and to stop rounding up and locking up women, men and children who are simply trying, legitimately, to improve their lives. 

  • FREE S!
  • Fire the detention centres!
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