[ 09. May 2008 ]

Protest against detention in Brussels

Ralley in Brussels, May 7, 2008

On May 7, 2008 a protest against a European "return directive" that authorises detention for at least 18 months of foreigners took place. The protesters demanded the closure of all detention centres and remebered on the death of Ebenizer Folefack Sontsa who died on May 1, 2008 in a Belgian detention centre.


Several hundred sans papiers supported by European MPs as well as humanitarian NGOs, trade unions and students, demonstrated on Wednesday, May 7, 2008 before the European parliament in Brussels. The demonstrators, including many Africans, carried placards asking for the immediate closure of "detention camps". They also demanded the immediate :: release of sanps papiers arrested on Tuesday while they were demonstrating in front of the Foreign Office.

European MPs joined the demonstration to protest against the adoption on Wednesday by the European Commission of the :: directive on immigration that authorises detention for at least 18 months of foreigners found to be in Europe illegally.

At a news conference, the Green European MP, Giasto Catania, protested against the directive which translates, according to him, into criminalisation of immigration while, according to official reports, Europe would need 20 million immigrant workers by 2020.

No to the Outrageous Directive!

Qutes from the Appeal to the Members of the European Parliament:

Since 1990, the policies of European governments with respect to immigration and asylum have resulted in a continuous reduction of the guarantees and fundamental protections of the people they affect. Europe is becoming a locked-down fortress and uses disproportionate means to prevent access to its territory and to deport unauthorised migrants.

The project before the European Parliament, if it were to be adopted, would represent yet another regression. In foreseeing detention that could be extended up to 18 months for people whose only offence is to want to live in Europe, it holds to an inhuman logic : generalizing a policy of confinement for aliens could become the normal way of treating migrant populations. In establishing a five-year ban from Europe for all people who are expelled, this project stigmatises the illegal immigrants and transforms them into delinquents who must be deported.

The proposed directive which will be presented to the Parliament is the first in this domain to be submitted to a procedure of co-decision with the Council of Ministers. The Parliament therefore has the possibility to once and for all put an end to this policy which goes against the human values at the heart of the European project and which give it its meaning.

Was Folefack a victim of police brutality or did he really take his own life?

Following the death of the Cameroonian asylum seeker Ebenizer Folefack Sontsa on May 1, 2008, the European MP asked for the opening of an enquiry into conditions in the 170 detention centres opened in Europe, describing the European directive on immigration as "the directive of shame".

For his part, the Belgian minister for Asylum and Migrations, who has been accused of being morally responsible for the death of the Cameroonian, announced that it will sign before 20 May 2008 the circular authorising the regularisation of sans papiers who meet the required conditions.

In a report on the controversy over Ebenizer Folefack Sontsa’s death :: asked: Was His Alleged Suicide a Cover-up? Was Folefack a victim of police brutality or did he really take his own life?

  • Friends say Folefack was so beat-up after the first expulsion attempt that he could barely walk straight, let alone be able to hang himself
  • Those who examined his corpse at the morgue claim that there was no sign of trauma around his neck
  • Inmates at the detention center say it is virtually impossible to hang oneself in the bathrooms
  • Authorities at the Merksplas refugee center insist it was suicide, and that Folefack left a couple of suicide notes
  • An autopsy is ordered as lawyers file suit against X

Sources :: :: ::