On 12-16 May, the LCHR organized a study visit to Belgium on return issues for 11 participants from Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia in the framework of the project „Developing good practices: promoting compliance with the Return Directive in Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia”. The study visit brought together 11 participants: the national authorities (representatives from the Ministries of Interior, the border guard/immigration police, the Ombudsman’s Offices) and representatives of NGOs from Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia.
The objective of the study visit was to learn the Belgian return practices, in particular, the best practice of alternatives to detention (return houses for families with children). Other aspects of the implementation of the Return Directive, including monitoring forced return, identification and protection of vulnerable groups, including unaccompanied minors, voluntary return, the situation of non-removable persons and immigration detention were also addressed during the study visit.
The participants had the following meetings and visits:
1. A meeting with the Belgium Immigration Office dealing with the issues of the access to territory, residence, control and removals;
2. A visit to the detention centre “Caricole” near the airport and to the return houses for families with children in Sint-Gillis-Waas (the visits were organized by the Belgium Immigration Office);
3. A meeting with the representatives of the Federal Centre for Migration, an independent public authority providing legal advice, training and monitoring migration issues;
4. A meeting with the representatives of the General Inspectorate of the Police services, which is responsible for monitoring forced return;
5. A meeting with the NGO JRS Europe dealing with the issues of immigration detention and alternatives to detention and conducting research at the EU level.
During all the meetings and visits, extensive discussions on various return practices were held.
Project is co-financed by the European Union under the European Return Fund - Community Actions 2012