Alternatives to detention


Country Report: Alternatives to detention Last updated: 30/11/20


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Articles 74/6 (detention on the territory) and 51/5 (detention under Dublin) of the Aliens Act refer to the need for less coercive alternative measures to be considered before imposing detention. These alternatives were supposed to be defined by Royal Decree, which has still not been adopted.

For families with (minor) children, two types of less coercive measures were set up: home accommodation in the context of an agreement under Article 74/9(3), and return homes.

Despite the introduction of these measures, the government opened five family units in August 2018 in the 127bis repatriation centre as a result of which families with children were being detained again. Detention is applied where the family manifestly refuses to cooperate with the return procedure.[1] The royal decree allowing this practice was suspended by the Council of State in April 2019, however. Between August 2018 and April 2019 a total of 9 families have been detained.[2]

For detention at the border, the Aliens Act does not contain any reference to less coercive measures or to an individual assessment prior to applying detention at the border. UNHCR has stated that this provision does not offer sufficient guarantees against arbitrary detention.[3] While detention was originally provided for those who applied for asylum invoking manifestly unfounded grounds, asylum procedures at the border are now generally considered to be procedures on the access of irregular immigrants to the territory, thus allowing detention until a decision has been made on this (or until the maximum detention period has elapsed). The detention measure is not evaluated on its necessity or proportionality by the Immigration Office, and the judicial review is mostly limited to the question of legality (see Procedural Safeguards: Judicial Review).[4]


[1] Chamber of Representatives, Policy Note on asylum and migration, 26 October 2018, available in Dutch and French at:, 34.

[2]  Council of State, Decision No 244190, 4 April 2019.

[3] UNHCR, Commentaires relatifs aux : Projet de loi 2548/003 modifiant la loi du 15 décembre 1980 sur l'accès au territoire, le séjour, l'établissement et l'éloignement des étrangers et la loi du 12 janvier 2007 sur l'accueil des demandeurs d'asile et de certaines catégories d'étrangers (ci-après « Projet de loi monocaméral »). – Projet de loi 2549/003 modifiant la loi du 15 décembre 1980 sur l'accès au territoire, le séjour, l'établissement et l'éloignement des étrangers (ci-après « Projet de loi bicaméral »), 4 Octobre 2017, available in French at:

[4] See also: Marjan Claes, Vasthouding van personen met een mogelijke nood aan internationale bescherming als uitzonderingsmaatregel na de wet van 21 november 2017, December 2019, available in Dutch 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