The Council of Europe sends a warning to Belgium

13 June 2017

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe urges Theo Francken to abandon his project to detain children

On 27 January 2017, Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe sent a letter to Theo Francken, State secretary for Asylum and Migration, to urge him not to detain families with children.

In his letter, he reminds him that detention, even for a short period and in adequate material conditions, can never be in the best interests of the child. “The damages resulting from detention have been amply documented and highlighted by several international human rights bodies (…).”

Mr Muižnieks states that « I consider that detention is a disproportianate measure as the harm inflicted on children in the context of detention cannot be justified by immigration control requirements ».

He concludes his letter as follows: “I am urging you to reconsider the decision to resume this practice. I encourage you to take steps towards a complete end of child immigration detention and to uphold Belgium’s leading role in the development of alternatives to detention.”

Mr Francken responded to Mr Muižnieks by a letter in which he explains the reasons for his decision to construct a closed centre for families with children, justifying his decision by the supposed “deterrence effect” of detention and the supposed positive effect detention would have by encouraging families to collaborate (see, in regard to this, the following question La détention des enfants est-elle un moyen d’encourager les familles à mieux coopérer ? - in French)

Read the letter by Mr Muižnieks

Read the reply by Mr Francken (in French)

A campaign by

Unicef
Mineurs en exil

In collaboration with

Caritas
Ciré
Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen
JRS