Access to reception centres by third parties


Country Report: Access to reception centres by third parties Last updated: 16/05/24


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The Reception Act provides for a guaranteed access to first- and second-line legal assistance.[1] In practice most centres refer to the free assistance of lawyers, although some of them provide first line legal advice themselves as well. Consequently, there are substantial differences between the different reception centres in the way the asylum seeker is assisted in the follow-up of their asylum procedure and in the contact with their lawyers.[2] Asylum seekers are entitled to public transport tickets to meet with their lawyer at the lawyer’s office.

Moreover, lawyers and UNHCR and implementing partners have the right to visit their clients in the reception facilities to be able to advise them. Their access can be refused only in case of security threats. Collective centres also have to make sure that there is a separate room in which private conversations can take place.[3]

In practice, access does not seem to be problematic, but only few lawyers do visit asylum seekers in the centres themselves. UNHCR and other official instances have access to the centres, but for NGOs and volunteer groups access depends on the specific centre. In some reception centres visitors are limited to the visitors’ area.




[1] Article 33 Reception Act.

[2] In the Flemish Red Cross (Rode Kruis) centres, the policy of neutrality is interpreted as reticence to do more than point the asylum seeker to their right to a “pro-Deo” lawyer and the right to appeal.

[3] Article 21 Reception Act; Royal Decree on the system and operating rules in reception centres and the modalities for checking rooms, 2 September 2018.

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