Attempts to forge common European rules on returning illegal immigrants to their points of departure have protesters petitioning to have the plans withdrawn. The draft directive is under debate in Brussels. The text goes before the European Parliament for a first reading next month, and also to the interior and justice ministers.
At a demonstration against the package, the National Secretary of the Christian Workers Association in Belgium, Véronique Oruba, said: “Closing in children… families, shutting up people who flee their countries for political reasons, for social and economic reasons… We can’t accept that. This is why there is a European appeal by concerned associations — to mobilise, to come out and say: ‘We want this directive annulled.’”
The aim of the directive is to even out the differences in how EU states expel illegal immigrants, examining voluntary return, coercive measures, temporary custody and a re-entry ban. The author of the Parliament’s report on the draft law, Christian Democrat Manfred Weber, said: “We defined that a detention centre could not be a prison – a normal one – because an illegal person is… not a criminal.”
A tentative agreement on repatriations was reached in April. This prescribes an individual’s “voluntary departure” within four weeks. National removal orders could follow, with re-entry banned for five years, and possible “coercive measures” to carry out the repatriation. The text said “temporary custody” should not exceed six months.