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Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children

Letter
Strasbourg 19/12/2016
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Belgium urged not to resume detention of migrant children and to expand alternatives to immigration detention for families with children

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published today, Commissioner Muižnieks warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children.

Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner considers that the intention to open closed family units near Brussels airport would go against the best interests of the child.

“Immigration detention, even as a measure of last resort and for a short period of time, should never apply to children because it is a disproportionate measure which may have serious detrimental effects on them” says the Commissioner.

The Commissioner urges the authorities to reconsider their decision to resume the practice. He invites them to maintain and develop existing alternatives to the detention of migrant and asylum-seeking families, an area in which Belgium has played a leading role in Europe in recent years.