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 publication is a summary of the dutch texts that were (Autonomous Centre) published on May 5, 1993.
Chapter 6: Restriction of freedom
Restriction of freedom
The Regulations Border Hostel has no punishments, only a number of restrictive (corrective) measures. One of them concerns putting a refugee in isolation. This is possible by order of the governor "...when the alien request to be put in isolation, or when and for as long as this is strictly neces- sary in order to secure his residence or the security and order in the border hospice" (Regulations Border Hostel, article 7a Vw sub 2a and b.). "If the execution of the in the second section under b. stated isolation in the border hostel meets with serious objections the governor can order that the isolation is undergone in another room as intended in article 7a Vw, first section of the Aliens' Act".
The authority of the governor to isolate, even against the will of the person in question, follows from "... his respon- sability for the ensuring of an undisturbed stay in the border hostel and the maintaining of security and order there". Isolation can be the ultimate measure the governor takes if his orders with regard to the maintaining of order are not followed. This authority cannot be delegated. In his absence he can leave the exercise of this authority only to his depu- ty.
It also becomes clear from the commentary *(NvT)* that the isolation measures in the first instance have to be imposed in the border prison itself; two cases are mentioned in which outplacement is indicated. The first case is that the number of refugees to be put in isolation exceeds the available capacity in the border prison. The second one is when a seri- ous incident occurs. In these cases a refugee can be transfer- red to a remand prison, which in that case first has to be indicated as a room ex article 7a Vw. The practice has been that up to and including November 30, 1992, without an excep- tion the measures were imposed outside the border prison. We only know of a few cases in which one of the isolation cells of the border prison itself has been used. Generally these cells are used awaiting transfer to a remand prison, that they are mostly only used for a number of hours.
It never became completely clear to us how the arrangements have been made concerning the transferrals. From complaints procedures and information from both members of the border prison staff and the Bijlmerbajes en Veenhuizen (prison and remand prison respectively) we were able to get an impression. The governor of the border prison prefers not to use the two isolation cells of the institution. Using these cells would only create "martyrs" within the border prison, according to the staff, and could lead to unrest among countrymen or people who are in the same section as the isolated detainee. Therefo- re a choice was made for isolation in the isolation depart- ments of remand prisons. This was laid down in a protocol of October 29, 1992; as an exception people go to the isolation section for the period of seven days, after which the governor of the border prison will judge whether the isolated person can be brought back to the border prison. When the decision is negative, the detainee is to be transferred to the ward in the remand prison, i.e. under a normal prison regime.
Categories of isolation
There are four distinct categories of isolation.
1. Isolation at one's own request
To our knowledge, this hardly ever happens. We know of one refugee, with whom this was the case. The man had serious psychical or neurological problems. The refusal of the Medical Service to give him an adequate examination meant a stay of months in the border prison. The detention aggravated his complaints and now and then he requested to be put in isolati- on. This used to happen in one of the isolation cells of the border prison. The term "isolation at one's own request" is misleading, for the assumption is made that it is a request at one's own free will. The "free will" in the border prison, however, is determind by the existing regime.
2. Individual isolation by order of the governor.
Isolation by order of the governor is only possible according to the Regulaitons in a room outside the border prison, if the capacity of the border prison is exceeded or when a serious incident has occurred. In the first case more than two isola- tions in the same period have to be imposed. In many individu- al cases this was not ; the capacity was available, but still the people were transferred. This means automatically that the second argu- ment was valid. Therefore what in the handed out measures invariably was called "verbally agressive" in the eyes of the governor had to be seen as an incident that was to such a degree serious that transferral was called for. Perhaps it is superfluous to say, but the only incident which could fall in this category is the one of December 29, 1992. However, this incident led to isolation in the border prison itself, whereas many people were involved that the capacity was clearly exceeded. From this one could conclude that the governor did not see it as a serious incident.
3. Isolation as a collective punishment.
This punitive measure has not been provided for in the regula- tions of the border prison. Still it has been imposed four times: at the end of November 1992, as a reaction on demands formulated by some dozen refugees; at the end of December as a sort of hostage taking of 13 people in the hope that they would give the name of someone who had attacked a guard, which could not have been seen by one of the 13; end of March as a reaction on plans for a demonstration; beginning of April as a reaction on an attempt at a discussion with the governor by a delegation of 10 people, of whom 5 were punished.
4. Isolation after a failed deportation attempt
This punitive measure has also not been provided for in the regulations.
There is one constant factor to be seen in almost all isolati- on measures: practically without exception the measure is imposed on people who refuse to accept their detention just like that. The assertiveness they show is often cause for isolation. It is also clear that in times of increasing tensi- on the staff also easily turns to this measure. Isolation measures are practically without exception imposed to create a climate in the institution as desired by the staff and to intimidate people in such a way that the possibility of unrest is kept as small as possible.
The refugees who sofar were transferred to remand prisons to maintain "order and quiet" in the border prison were all given an isolation measure. This measure usually means at least seven days of isolation, and it is imposed by the governor of the border prison. This measure must be seen as a punitive measure, since the refugees in question can no longer disturb the "order and quiet" in the border prison.
It is general knowledge that a period of isolation can have serious effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of a detainee, which is why it is not often used in a remand pri- son. If it happens, isolation only takes places when a number of conditions have been met, and only with the consent and under the observation of the institute's doctor. The staff of the border prison turns to this weapon of isolation with great ease, without caring about the physical condition of the refugee, both before the punishment and after. The refugees punished with isolation, to whom we spoke, never saw a doctor. All were troubled by depressivity after their isolation. Of one person we know that after his isolation he took ORAP, an anti-pschosis medicine, for a large part of his remaining days in the border prison. There was no psychological support whatsoever for any of the refugees who were isolated.