Families with children do not get detained in Belgium.

Study visit of Slovak representatives of Ministry of Interior and of the Office of the Ombudsman organized by the Human Rights League aimed to get acquainted with advantages and positive practices of the Belgium system of return policy.

From 13th to 15th May 2014 the Human Rights League, together with participants from Department of Foreign Relations and European Affairs of the Office of the Minister of Interior and a lawyer from Office of the Slovak Public Rights Defender, have explored about details of the system of return policy adopted and implemented in Belgium.  Together with colleagues from other non-governmental organizations and state institutions from Lithuania and Latvia, we have met with representatives of the Belgium Federal Immigration Office, General Inspectorate of the Police, the Federal Centre for Migration, as well as NGO Jesuit Refugee Service. Main interest of our attention were the alternatives to detention, but also treatment of vulnerable persons and the national system of the monitoring of execution of decisions on return. 

Study visit consisted also from practical part, during which we have learnt about some progressive elements of the Belgium system of return policy. Federal Immigration Office has accompanied us to the detention centre in Le Caricole at the Brussels airport. Inside of the centre premises, detainees are left to move freely from morning until the evening. We have also learnt about most recent innovative solution for families with children. Families awaiting removal do not get detained, but they are placed in these return houses (during study visit we have attended one of the units/houses near the border with the Netherlands). These family houses serve as an alternative to detention, since system does not allow for detention of children, regardless of they are accompanied or not by their parents. The important part of the solution in Belgium is involvement of tutors and couches, who are responsible for intense work with individual families. They help them to resolve everyday individual issues, more serious issues, such as related to immigration status and in case of need they also help in preparation of their return to country of origin.


On Wednesday the representatives of the General Inspectorate of the Police have introduced Belgium system of independent control of returns during final stage of their execution – example during escort in case of return flight to country of origin.

Belgic system of execution of returns as well as mechanism of its control is in many aspects a good practice. Its elements may be interesting inspiration in developing further the Slovak system of measures of return policy.


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Study visit has been organized by the Human Rights League in cooperation with the Latvian Centre for Human Rights and Lithuanian Red Cross. Organization of the study visit was supported through project „Developing good practices: promoting compliance with the Return Directive in Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia“. This project is co-financed by the European Commission, European Return Fund. No. of agreement: HOME/2012/RFXX/CA/1005.