Why are we against child detention?

Child detention should be avoided at all costs, and for several reasons:

  • Child detention constitutes a child rights violation.
  • Immigration detention of children always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child.[1]­
  • The profound and negative impact of detention on child health, development and well-being has been demonstrated repeatedly, even for a short period of time and when it takes place in a relatively humane environment.


  • Detention does not incite people to collaborate with their return.
  • The European Court for Human Rights has stated several times that child detention constitutes an inhuman and degrading treatment, taking in consideration the specific vulnerability of children.
  • Detention is expensive... because of the initial construction costs of the closed centres, and also because of the costs for personel and maintenance. (In 2018, detention in a closed centre costs 196 euro per person per day.[2]­ Detention in a return house costs about half of this. In comparison, accomodation in an open centre costs a third.[3])

[1] Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 3: "In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration."
[2] Article 17/7 of the Arrêté Royal du 08/10/1981 concernant l’accès au territoire, le séjour, l’établissement et l’éloignement des étrangers sets a flat-rate amount of EUR 180 for costs related to detention in a closed center. After indexation on 01/01/2018, this amount increases to EUR 196. This was written in a note of the Immigration office of 22/01/2018.
[3] UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Alternatives to the Detention of Asylum-seekers in Belgium, October 2011, p. 10. (See: www.refworld.org/docid/524fc3ef4.html [accessed 30 May 2017])

A campaign by

Mineurs en exil

In collaboration with

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen