Chapter 1: Refugees
Chapter 2: The Borderprison
Chapter 3: Daily life
Chapter 4: Medical care
Chapter 5: Protest
Chapter 6: Restriction of freedom
Chapter 7: Expulsions
Chapter 8: Intimidations
Chapter 9: Conclusions
This is chapter two of a brochure from the Autonomous Centre about the border-prison 'Grenshospitum' in the Netherlands. This chapter is a little history about this prison.
As early as May '91, the first foundation stone for the building of the border prison was laid, while there had hardly been any debate in Parliament about the detention of refugees. On June 5, '91, the Cabinet presented proposals for the new refugee regime, which would have become effective on October 1, 1991. A high tempo was required; the government intended to have the plans accepted by Parliament before the summer. Expelling rejected saylum seekers must be substantially intensivated according to the plans, which also include a closed institution to be opened before the end of '91, to replace Schiphol-Oost, the old detention centre The pricetag is Dfls. 14 million. Justice introduced similar plans as early as '89, but these were thwarted by several municipalities which did not agree with detention within their boundaries. The argumentation for the building of such a new institution wa that the lack of space in Schiphol-Oost created great tensions, which lead to vandalism and escapes. The tensions were to be prevented in a "border hostel".
The official opening on April 6, 1992 coincided with the occupation of the border prison. Originally this was not intended; there was to be a testing period first. But a massive escape attempt from Schiphol-Oost at the end of March '92 lead to early closure of this refugee centre, due to which the first detainees in the border prison serve as guinea pigs. Initially, the border prison was only intended for the reception of refugees to whom entry into the Netherlands was refused and who, on the basis of article 7a Vw, were obliged to await the result of their asylum application in a room safeguarded against unauthorized departure. Since August 1, '92 part of the available capacity, 48 places, is used for the detention of persons on the ground of article 26 Vw.
Until December '92 there had been a strict separation between the B-section and the other sections*; both B1 and B2 were used for the detention of called illegal aliens. Since that day the B1-section has also been used for the detention of 7a Vw refugees.
Until April 7, 1993 the detainees were allowed to receive visitors practically unlimited (contrary to the other institutions); they did not have to apply for visits. Only in the weekends was a visiting restriction in force; visitors had to announce themselves beforehand. Since April 7, '93 there is a rule that the detainees themselves have to indicate which visitors they want to see.
As in every other prison or remand prison the border prison has a supervisory board.
"The alien can address the supervisory board with any complaint connected to his residence in the border hostel", according to the Regulations Border Hospice, article 11. The board is an independent organisation, appointed by the Minister of Justice, which consists of five persons. Its activities consist of seeing to the treatment of the detainees, and dealing with their complaints. They can also give recommendations about the treatment of detainees, albeit as a result of a complaint or otherwise. At all times the board has access to the border prison and receives the desired information from the governor. In general the board meets once a month; the governor of the border prison is present at these meetings, unless the board decides otherwise.
Detainees can complain about isolation measures, the refusal to admit visitors and the seizure of goods. Complaints can also be made about other measures imposed by the staff if these are not in agreement with the regulations of the border prison, and in as far as they are connected with the presence of the refugee in the institution.
The supervisory board forms a complaints commission consisting of three persons. Besides, it appoints a socalled "commissioner of the month". The latter can visit the border prison during that month, is entrusted with the treatment of grievances and visits the people who have made complaints. The intention is that the commissioner of the month visits the border prison weekly. However, this only happens in periods of unrest. The supervisory board has its own letterbox in the border prison.