Commissioner Muižnieks reaffirmed that immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Migration and Asylum of Belgium, Mr Theo Francken, published on 19 December 2016.
In his letter, he warns against resuming the practice of detaining migrant families with children. Referring to the Secretary of State’s recent general policy statement, the Commissioner expressed the view 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,” said the Commissioner. He referred in particular to a group of judgments against France delivered in July 2016 concerning the administrative detention of children.
The Commissioner urged the authorities to reconsider their decision to resume the practice. He invited 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.The reply of the Secretary of State is available here.