Protests have taken place in Belgium against a decision by the authorities to place migrant families, including children, in detention centres.
The demonstrations are in response to a government crackdown on illegal immigration that would mean doubling the number of places in holding centres.
It would result in an expansion of a centre close to Brussels where migrants hoping to travel to the UK will be taken.
But protesters say holding young children in such facilities is immoral and they want the government to reconsider the move:
“It is totally unacceptable to lock up children who have done nothing, who are not guilty of anything, so they have to stop,” said one woman protester. “Belgium has already been condemned by the Court of Human Rights and the country is doing it again, so that’s unacceptable. “
“Faced with people who are increasingly vulnerable, it is a means of diverting attention,” claimed Maxime Van Laere of the Belgium Workers’ Party. “It is scaremongering to scare people and prevent them from focusing on the problems we all face.”
Campaigners say asylum-seekers risk being deprived of their liberty while their asylum applications are being processed … even though many of the children were born in Belgium.
A report in August suggested that children placed in such centres may suffer long-term psychological problems as a result of their detention.
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