In July the Office of the Federal Ombudsperson published the findings of its investigation into closed centres for irregular migrants and rejected asylumseekers in Belgium. The Ombudsperson reaffirmed that detention for the purpose of migration control should be used only as a last resort and noted that this principle was not always respected in Belgium. The Ombudsperson also expressed concerns about the living conditions inside closed centres, noted serious deficiencies in the system for dealing with individual complaints, and called for the introduction of legal advice services inside the closed centres. This recommendation was also made by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights in his report on his 2008 visit to Belgium published in June. He additionally called on the Belgian authorities to stop automatically detaining asylumseekers who make claims at the border and to improve conditions in the closed centres.
Counter-terror and security
On 8 October, a detainee from the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay was transferred to Belgium. The Belgian authorities confirmed that the released detainee would have residency status entitling him to a work permit.
Excessive use of force – police and security forces
There were continued reports of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials.
- In March the family of Ebenizer Sontsa, a rejected asylum-seeker from Cameroon who committed suicide after an attempted deportation from Brussels airport in April 2008, submitted a complaint of torture and assault against the police officers suspected of illtreating him during the failed expulsion.