FECL 32 (March 1995):


A Belgian MP, Germain Dufour, has highlighted, once again, the scandalous situation in so-called "closed" reception centres for rejected asylum-seekers awaiting deportation. In the infamous centre "127 Bis" at the new terminal of the Brussels-Zaventem airport, deportees have been locked up for up to 15 days in pitch black isolation cells, and the compound is surrounded by razor wire.

The Green MP had taken up the a recent case of a Zairian women and her two daughters. The women was detained at the "127 bis" centre and deported to Zaire with one of her children on 3 January. She has since vanished; her brother in Zaire was seriously beaten by members of the Zairian state security on the very day of her deportation. The women's other 13 year old daughter escaped from the centre in December, together with 13 other deportees and is still reported missing.

Mr Dufour stresses the total lack of public control over the centres: "Nobody knows, what's going on there and what happens to the people who pass there." Indeed, according to the internal rules of the centre, except for parliamentary committees, not even MPs have access to the compound.

The Belgian asylum support group, Open Frontiers, and the League for Human Rights have described the "127 bis" centre as a "concentration camp". According to Open Frontiers, isolation cells, which measure 1.5 by 3 metres and have no window, have been used as a back-up to ordinary dormitories. Deportees whom airlines refuse to take on board are also placed in the isolation cells when attempts to deport them are thwarted.


Sources: Le Soir, 10.1.95; European Race Audit, No. 12, March 95; MRAX-Info No. 76 - January 95