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Brussels suspends deportation of Sudanese asylum seekers

December 24 - 2017 BRUSSELS
Belgium’s State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken with the Ambassador of Sudan to Belgium (belga)
Belgium’s State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken with the Ambassador of Sudan to Belgium (belga)

After reports that Sudanese were tortured upon their forced return from Belgium, deportations have been suspended, pending an investigation.

Belgium will refrain from sending refugees back to Sudan until the end of January, after reports that at least six Sudanese asylum seekers sent back to their homeland have been held and seripusly maltreated upon their return.

In September, State Secretary for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken, invited Sudanese officials to Brussels to help authorities identify Sudanese migrants and arrange for their forced repatriation. He wanted the delegation to review the cases of more than 100 illegal Sudanese, many of whom were arrested at the Maximiliaan Park in Brussels.

Human rights groups heavily criticised the step and warned that the officials were likely to be security agents, sent to target political refugees.

According to testimonies collected by the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, some of those returned were tortured. Two have since fled Sudan again.

“When I landed in Sudan, they stopped me for hours in the intelligence offices, they wanted to know why I went to Europe, who I met, and how I got there," one of the deported immigrants reported.

“I was beaten with sticks, beaten constantly, after two days they released me, I was so scared that I was bedridden for three days after that,” he said. “They [the Sudanese authorities] made me sign documents stating that I would not carry out any political action and that I would never leave the country. My life is in danger.”

In response to the reports The Belgium Chamber of Representatives held an emergency meeting late on Friday to hear testimony from Francken. “If it turns out that they were really tortured, this will be a big problem,” he told the Belgium press earlier this week. “Then no one will be sent back any more.”

The Netherlands

In November, Dutch police forcibly evicted 90 migrants, including 17 Sudanese nationals. In early December another Sudanese asylum seeker was sent back.

A Sudanese activist living in the Netherlands told Radio Dabanga at the time that the Dutch immigration authority has closed the files of 17 Sudanese nationals including Darfuris, as they doubted their arguments.



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