The violence of Belgian migration policy and forced returns February 2024


According to reports from the Immigration Office, there were 2,918 forced returns in 2022. By November 2023, the number of forced returns had already risen to 3,097.

For the moment we witness many attempted forced deportations that take place “unexpectedly”. As a result of that surprise, detainees are not always able to inform their lawyer or contact their families before being placed in solitary confinement and subjected to the brutality of forced deportation in a context of physical and psychological violence.  

Recently : 

– On 21 February, S., a young man aged about 30 with Iraqi nationality, who had been residing in Belgium for more than six years, was forcibly deported to Baghdad. S. had a partner in Belgium and worked there regularly. In September 2023, Belgian police picked him up from his home in the middle of the night. Since then, S. had been locked up in a detention centre and resisted two attempts to deport him. In the days leading up to this latest deportation, S. went on hunger strike to protest against the violence and racism of the guards and police. Two days before the deportation, he consulted a doctor who advised him to eat because he was very weak and sick. On the morning of 21 February, without any prior warning, the police informed S. that he would be deported a few hours later on a flight to Austria. S. tried to resist again. But the escort of four policemen forcibly forced him to board. Today he finds himself in Iraq in a totally insecure situation, in a politically unstable country where he is risking his life.

– On 22 February 2024, Francis underwent his 5th violent deportation attempt to Abidjan via Istanbul. He resisted and passengers intervened in this violence.Finally, he was brought back to the Merksplas centre and again assaulted by federal police.Francis has been held in several detention centres for 14 months.

– Three people from Sri Lanka were forcibly returned to Sierra Leone, the country they had travelled through.When they stepped off the plane, they were left to their own devices and were not welcomed or cared for.They found themselves without resources or support in a country they knew nothing about, and had to overcome many difficulties.One of them contracted malaria and all three struggled daily.

– We heard from a fellow prisoner in Caricole that “they came to get Marwa tonight (02/02) at 9pm”. Marwa was thus forcibly and unexpectedly deported on 3 February via Rome to Tunisia after a year’s detention at the Holsbeek detention centre.The Belgian authorities forcibly repatriated her to a country she had fled to escape a forced marriage!

– Testimony from the son of a Cuban woman detained in Holsbeek and deported on Sunday 25 February:

“My mother went through a lot, she had been staying in Belgium for 4 and a half months, where she experienced several situations, the first was that the lawyer did what he wanted, and he only asked her for money because he knew she would eventually be forcibly deported and he would earn his money.

She was deported without investigating whether her life was in danger.They are very racist and do not want immigrants there, and all they tell her in court is that she has no evidence.

The immigration officials took a long time to get her off the plane, then they interrogated her in a closed room and she was terrified. She was put under a lot of pressure.”


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