MP Monica De Coninck asks State secretary Theo Francken for more information

13.06.2017 - MP Monica De Coninck asked State secretary Theo Francken for more information on his intentions to build a new closed centre for families with children.

On 15 February 2017, MP Monica De Coninck asked a parliamentary question adressed to Theo Francken, State secretary for Asylum and Migration, on the "closed family units". Her questions included different aspects of the plans to build a new closed centre for families with children, e.g. the quality of construction, the people he seeks to detain in the centre, the progress of the plans.

Francken's answer contains a lot of information about the new centre.

The closed centre would consist of 5 separate units, called "closed family units". Three of them could house up to 6 people, while 2 of them could house up to 8. At the time of the opening, there will be no playing facilities; they will be added later on.

The aim of the new closed centre is, according to Mr Francken, to discourage families from absconding from the return houses. In the future, families will be informed, upon their arrival in a return house, that they can be transferred to a closed centre if they disappear from the return house. That said, we are worried that once the centre is built, other families will be detained there as well.

Mr Francken explains that the length of stay will be "as short as possible", while adding that this "depends on each case" and that "the collaboration of the person involved [also] plays a role". We do not have precise information at the moment about the maximum length of detention.

We should add that the idea of threathening with detention would lead to improved collaboration of the families is not supported by research. Detention rather tends to have a negative effect on cooperation with immigration procedures.

Sadly, in her answer, De Coninck states that she agrees that, in some cases, child detention can be justified. We are taken aback by her statement and insist once more on the fact that a child should never be detained for migratory purposes.

Because "You don't lock up a child. Period.".

A campaign by

Mineurs en exil

In collaboration with

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen