Tech & Rights

Voluntary Return of Iraqi Refugees: Lies, Blackmail and Hypocrisy

Human rights associations denounce the lie of Belgian authorities that some asylum seekers are ready to voluntarily return to Iraq.

by David Morelli

"The policy of Belgium is correct. It is a model in Europe,” said Belgium’s state secretary for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, about his country’s migration policies. “We are among the best in Europe and we are conducting an extremely humane policy.”

Muted voices

Behind the barbed wire of closed migrant centers, however, there are other voices, from places like Iraq, Syria and Somalia, which challenge the secretary’s self-congratulating remarks. They scream for help as they wait to be deported back to places where the intensity of fighting clearly confirms the legitimacy of their asylum claims.

The Belgian government, probably unable to take responsibility for the contradiction between the geopolitical reality and its expulsion policy, recently presented dozens of Iraqi asylum seekers held in closed centers as candidates for voluntary return.

Representatives of the League of Human Rights (LDH) and MRAX met on September 23 with asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria and Somalia at the detention center 127bis. These detainees confirmed that they are not candidates for voluntary return and instead wish to take refuge in Belgium.


On the Sunday following the visit, many other asylum seekers in the center gathered in the courtyard and refused to return to their cells. In an effort to get them back inside, the facilities managers promised them another visit from LDH.

LDH denounces this outrageous process, akin to a particularly hypocritical blackmail having in mind that two days earlier, the director of the center had refused access to representatives of LDH, who came in emergency, after learning that the detainees had begun a hunger strike.

The League of Human Rights also denounces the official discourse, which endangers human lives while disguising the reality to justify the unjustifiable before the public opinion. At a time when the European Commission launches infringement proceedings against 19 EU countries, including Belgium, for their deficient asylum policy, the self-praise of the government can be qualified as sordid cynicism.

Information Hub

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps in the EU

Find out more