Access to detention facilities


Country Report: Access to detention facilities Last updated: 10/07/24


Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen Visit Website

Lawyers always have access to their client in detention.[1] Access is granted to UNHCR, the Children’s Rights Commissioner, Myria and some supranational human rights institutions.[2] NGOs need to get the approval from the Immigration Office’s managing director in advance to get access to the detention centres.[3] In general, an individualised accreditation is issued for specific persons who conduct these visits for an NGO, as is the case for specific employees and volunteers of Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas International, Point d’Appui and Nansen, who previously formed an informal coalition to work on topics related to administrative detention of migrants. Since January 2021, this informal ‘Transit group’ is succeeded by an official coalition known by the name Move ( Currently, the members of the steering Committee of Move are Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen, JRS Belgium, Caritas International Belgium and Ciré. The coalition’s goals are pursued in collaboration with other NGOs working in the field of migration, such as Nansen or Point d’Appui. The members of Move build on almost 20 years of experience in the field of immigration detention and possess vast expertise in the four specific pillars of the coalition:

  • visits and monitoring of detention centres, in order to provide psychosocial support, neutral information and legal aid to detainees. The visitors observe the conditions in the detention centres;
  • quality legal expertise offered to visitors and other legal practitioners, in order to increase access to legal defense for the detainees;
  • field observations and recommendations for concrete changes are carried out under the political pillar; to better pursue its objectives, the coalition also maintains close contact with politicians;
  • a media and communication pillar, that works on fundamentally questioning detention for migratory reasons in the public space.

Members of Parliament and of the judicial and executive powers can visit specific detainees if they are identified beforehand and if they can indicate to the managing director of the centre that such a visit is part of the execution of their office.[4] Journalists need the permission of the managing director of the centre and the permission of the individual asylum seeker; they are not allowed to film.[5]

The asylum seeker is entitled to visits from their direct relatives and family members for at least 1 hour a day, if they can provide a proof of their relation.[6] So called intimate visits from a person with whom the asylum seeker has a proven durable relation are allowed once a month for 2 hours.[7] All visits, except for the so called ‘undisturbed’ (intimate) ones, in case of serious illness and those by the lawyer, diplomats or representatives of public authorities, take place in the visitors’ room in the ‘discreet’ presence of staff members, who are present in the room but do not listen.[8] After limitations imposed due to the pandemic, visits resumed normally since March 2022.[9]




[1] Article 64 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[2] Article 44 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[3] Article 45 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[4] Articles 33, 42 and 43 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[5] Articles 37 and 40 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[6] Article 34 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[7] Article 36 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[8] Articles 29-30 Royal Decree on Closed Centres.

[9] JRS Belgium, Monitoring report 2022, available in English at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation