“This retention and this asylum request are really extremely problematic”:Free!

UPDATE 12/04: This morning, Mamadou got a ticket for his deportation to Gambia on the following day. The result of an appeal for his release was also due to fall on the same day: the court decided that his retention was illegal and that he had to be released! This decision was apparently ignored by the Office who really had the intention to deport him. This was without counting on Mamadou’s and his lawyer’s fast communication as well as on the alert messages that were spread on the different networks! Mamadou was released today at 6 p.m. Yet… how many are being retained and deported that way by the Foreigners Office, in complete illegality?



M was 15-16 years old when he lived the dramatic events in the North of Mali. He was very young when he lost his parents and brothers in the war in Kidal. Some were killed, others disappeared. He went on living with his eldest brother in  Kidal. Then, when his brother got killed by Jihadists he fled the country to Gambia and then to Belgium. He was arrested when arriving in Brussels airport and brought to the Caricole centre almost three months ago. There he celebrated his 19th birthday. His asylum request was refused and he is now retained in the closed centre in view of his deportation. 

Being 19, he finds himself stuck between bars and death threats in his country, subject to another injustice from bureaucracy that chose to extend, against its own laws, the retention of this boy which mistake is not to have a unfailing memory. By the way, what about you? what were you doing on the 6th of May 2013? 

Here after is his testimony and the one of his lawyer who mentions serious dysfunctions in his retention and the processing of his asylum request. 

Testimony from M: audio mahmadou

Testimony from his lawyer: avocat

Transcription testimony M:

– You have been retained in the Caricole for more than two months already. Why did you flee to Belgium? Which country are you from? 

– I am from Mali. I crossed Gambia to come to Belgium. 

– Why did you flee Mali? 

– There was a war in the North of Mali. My brothers, my parents, a lot of people were killed by the Jihadists. That’s how my mother died. I don’t know where my brother and father are. I had a brother who was with me, a real family, unfortunately he got in trouble with the terrorists overthere and I took the road to go to Gambia.

– How long did you stay in Gambia? 

– I left for Gambia and I stayed more or less, I don’t know the precise dates, but I stayed more or less one year and a few months. I stayed there to work.  

– Then you decided to leave. Were you obliged to leave? 

– I was working for a man, for him too life was a problem in Gambia. He was working for the administration there and it seemed he was in trouble. Everybody knew I was working for him. He said that I had to leave, and him too with all his family. He asked me whether I wanted to go back to Mali. I said that I was planning to go to Europe. He did everything for me to get here. 

– Then you landed at the airport and they arrested you. 

– Yes, they arrested me and said that I could not enter the Belgian territory. They took me to the Caricole centre where I requested asylum. 

– And for the moment, all the asylum requests are rejected? 

– Yes, I requested asylum, I did the interview, the big one with the general commissariat… well… it turned out to be negative. I went to court, it was negative too. 

– And what would happen if you went back to Gambia? 

– I know that if I go back there they will imprison me, or even kill me because I know how my boss left the country with his whole family, and I know that the way he told me to leave the country would also put me into trouble because of him, that’s why he made me leave the country, to avoid problems. I know Gambia is a dictatorship, I know they will imprison me, hence I don’t want to go back to Gambia. 

Transcription testimony lawyer

– So, you are the lawyer of Mamadou, who is retained at the Caricole, right?

– Yes, I am. 

– Can you explain the juridical stituation of Mamadou?

– Mamadou is Malian. He arrived in the Caricole on the 27th of January 2016. One should know that they retained him in Caricole as soon as he had arrived in Belgium. He came to Zaventem, planning to request asylum and he was directly retained in a closed centre. This is what we call an asylum procedure at the border.  

It caused two juridical issues, the first one from the asylum point of view and the second one from the retention point of view. 

As regards retention, there is a European directive that requires from the States who apply this asylum procedure at the border, hence with people in retention, to release them after 4 weeks. However, M is still being retained whereas he should have been released on the 26th of February. This is really problematic because every time we spoke to a judge, the latter avoided the question. He said ‘you are right from the legal point of view, but it is not the right decision. It is not to me you should have come’. Actually we didn’t do anything wrong with the procedures, it is them who made the mistakes. Therefore there is a real problem with the illegaliy of this boy’s retention. 

The second issue is that this boy is very young. He just turned 19 a few days ago. He celebrated his birthday at the Caricole. He is very young, he left Mali in very difficult conditions more than a year ago. Since he fled to Gambia, his souvenirs are souvenirs of a young boy, what he rememembers from Mali dates back to the time he was 15-16 years old. And the only thing they blame him for concerning his asylum request is that he doesn’t collaborate enough with the CGRA because he is not able to give them a precise chronology of the events.  Mamadou rarely went to school so for him chronology is indeed quite complicated, which doesn’t mean that what he says is not true. Indeed, everything he says about Mali corresponds to what we know about Mali and what is happening there. It is a country at war, France has forces on the ground overthere. Dramatic events took place there. Everything he says corresponds to reality. He is simply not capable of giving us a chronology according to the European way, which doesn’t please the CGRA.

Therefore I think this retention and this asylum request are really extremely problematic. 

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