Belgium gov’t slammed for using Sudanese officers to identify illegal migrants

Belgium state minister for migrants poses with Sudan's Ambassador in Brussels (Photo from Theo Francken's Facebook page)

September 21, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The arrival of Sudanese officers to Brussels to identify Sudanese illegal migrants has raised a heated debate in Belgium as the opposition groups and rights activities strongly condemned the security cooperation with Khartoum.

On Saturday 16 September, Belgium’s Minister of State for Immigration Theo Francken announced on his Facebook page the arrival of three security officers from the interior ministry in Khartoum to identify some 80 Sudanese immigrants detained in a centre for illegal immigrants ahead of their deportation to Khartoum.

The announcement triggered widespread criticism from the opposition parties and human rights groups that slammed the presence of Sudanese security members pointing to the bad human rights record of the Sudanese government and the indictment of President Omer al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes in Darfur region.

Alexis Deswaef, the President of the League of Human Rights (LDH), said on Tuesday that he was shocked by the agreement between Belgium and Sudan on the identification of migrants. He further wondered if the Prime Minister Charles Michel and his Foreign Minister Didier Reynders endorse such cooperation.

“A simple Secretary of State like Mr Francken is undermining Belgium’s international credibility while Mr Michel and Mr Reynders are in New York to defend the Belgian candidacy to the UN Security Council,” he said.

Vanessa Saenen, HCR representative in Brussels told the public TV, RTBF that such cooperation is not without risks for the migrants stressing that “Sudan is still a country with many problems of violations of human rights, violence, and percussion”.

Belgium green party Ecolo requested to hold a meeting of the Committee on Internal Affairs to discuss the issue. While the Socialist Party called for debate at the parliament to discuss the discuss the initiative of the state minister for immigration.

Different European countries have started to send back to Khartoum Sudanese migrants who arrived via Libya.

After the closure of Calais camp in northern France for the illegal migrants who want to reach Britain, many migrants moved to Belgium saying it is easier to cross the channel from there.

Also, Belgium reintroduced border controls with France last year to prevent the influx of migrants, While France has used since last June drones and dogs to stop migrants who try to cross the border from Italy.