Repatriation, detention and deportation
Myria ensures that the human rights of detained foreigners are respected in situations of deportation or re-entry. To achieve this, we have been given access to places where foreign nationals are detained i.e. detention centres and INAD centres (short for “inadmissible”). We also have the right to be informed by the Complaints Commission of any complaint made by a detained foreign national.
Foreigners who do not or no longer meet the conditions required to legally stay in Belgium may be issued with a removal order from the Immigration Office (ordre de quitter le territoire, OQT). This administrative decision may or may not specify a time-frame in which the foreigner must leave the country, and it may be include a temporary ban from the Schengen area. People who have received OQTs can leave the country voluntarily or via deportation arranged by detention centre authorities.
There are two ways of leaving a country voluntarily:
- Voluntary departure: the person decides on their own initiative, without assistance or the aid of an escort, to leave the country;
- Assisted voluntary departure: the person is assisted and accompanied by organizations such as the Catholic organization Caritas, the international Organization for Migration, or the Immigration Office.
The foreigner who has been ordered to leave the country can also be deported by authorities and held in detention:
- if they are being deported: they are refused entry to Belgium as soon as they arrive at the border;
- if they are arrested in the country while living as an illegal resident and they have failed to comply with the OQT in the set time period or if they were given a OQT with no time allowance.
Deportations can be arranged with or without an escort, depending on whether the foreigner puts up resistance when they leave. When an escort is involved, the process is referred to as forcible return or repatriation. The General Police Inspectorate, both federal and local, is responsible for monitoring the level of force and self-restraint shown by the escorts carrying out the deportation.
Detention facilities for foreigners
As part of processing a foreigner’s deportation, the Immigration Office can detain a foreigner (also referred to as administrative detention) in one of 6 detention centres:
- the Caricole transit centre: located in Melsbroek, next to the Zaventem airport
- the detention centre 127a : located in Steenokkerzeel, next to the Zaventem airport
- the Vottem centre for illegal immigrants
- the Merksplas centre for illegal immigrants
- the Bruges centre for illegal immigrants
- the Holsbeek centre for illegal immigrants
or in an alternative detention facility, referred to as a maison de retour (only if the family has small children).
Note that the Immigration Office can also detain certain types of asylum seekers (foreigners seeking asylum at the border, groups of asylum seekers, asylum seekers subject to the Dublin procedure).
Belgian law provides for the existence of closed centers for foreigners turned away at the border from the regional airports located in Gosselies, Bierset, Deurne, Ostend and Wevelgem. However, these centers have not been used since 2012. A foreigner who is arrested at the border is taken to a closed center after notification, unless there is a flight in the next few hours.
2022 Annual report trafficking and smuggling of human beings
Myria, the independent national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings, is publishing its 2022 public and independent annual report in English entitled Bound by debt.
2021 Annual report trafficking and smuggling of human beings
Myria, the Federal Migration Centre and independent national rapporteur on trafficking in human beings, is publishing its 2021 public and independent annual report in English today: Visibly invisible. Aimed at the Government and Parliament, this report provides an impetus and offers support to the relevant stakeholders.
Moving to Belgium as an EU citizen
Myria presents the study 'Moving to Belgium as an EU citizen' to the general public. The study points out a number of shortcomings in the registration formalities of EU citizens in the municipality. It contains recommendations to guarantee the free movement of EU workers, self-employed persons and jobseekers and their families.
2020 Annual report trafficking and smuggling of human beings
In its annual report entitled Behind closed doors Myria hightlights the need to raise awareness on the exploitation of domestic workers, the special attention that needs to be paid to diplomatic domestic staff and the COVID-19 aspect.
Myriadoc 10: Belgium, on the road to the United Kingdom
In this publication, Myria focusses on transit migration, and specifically on transit migrants who want to get to the United Kingdom.
2019 Annual report trafficking and smuggling of human beings
Justice for human trafficking victims has a long way to go. With its annual report, Myria wants to contribute to their empowerment and has put together concrete recommendations for the attention of public authorities.