The Muskhadzhiyeva family

A mother of 4, detained in Belgium with her children in December 2006

Before 2009, children were detained in Belgium, with their parents, in closed centres, much like what is being proposed today. Below you'll find the story of the Muskhadzhiyeva family, based on the judgment by the European Court of Human Rights on this family's case.

The mother, Aina Muskhadzhiyeva (born in 1966) and her 4 children (who were 7 months, 3.5 years, 5 years and 7 years old at the time of detention) lived in a refugee camp in Debak-Podkowa Lesna (Poland) after fleeing from Chechnya. They arrive in Belgium on 11 October 2006 and apply for asylum here.

As the family arrives from Poland, Belgium contacts the Polish authorities, who accept to take responsability for the family, in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. The Belgian authorities, on 21 December 2006, issue a decision to refuse the family a permission to stay in Belgium and order them to leave the country.

On 22 December 2006 the family is brought to a closed centre near Brussels airport, known as “Transit Centre 127 bis". A request for release by the Applicants is rejected by the Brussels Court of First Instance on 5 January 2007 and again by the Brussels Court of Appeal on 23 January 2007.

Between those two decisions the organisation “Doctors without borders” carries out a psychological examination of the family. They find that the children in particular – and especially the five year old girl – are showing serious psychological and psychotraumatic symptoms and should be released to limit the damage. Their opinion is that the family should be released in order to limit the extent of the damage.

After 34 days of detention, on 24 January 2007 the family is sent back to Poland. On the same day, they lodged a cassation appeal. By a decision of 21 March 2007 the Court of Cassation found the appeal devoid of purpose as the family has already been removed from the country.

A report drawn up by a psychologist in Poland on 27 March 2007 confirmed the five year old girl's very critical psychological state and confirmed that the deterioration might have been caused by the detention in Belgium.

The European Court of Human Rights convicted Belgium for the inhuman and degrading treatment of the 4 children (Article 3 ECHR) and for the violation of their right to liberty and security (Article 5 § 1 ECHR).

We must remember this critical case as similar conditions are being proposed today. We cannot go back to this.


A campaign by

Mineurs en exil

In collaboration with

Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen