Belgium: Woman in repatriation blunder

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Expatica News, August 28, 2003 .,89,&item_id=33818

BRUSSELS -- A Belgian woman was stopped, searched, and given a repatriation order, after being mistaken for an illegal immigrant by the Belgian federal police and Foreign Office.

Twenty year-old Bicha Monkokole Kasembele, who was born in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, was arrested at Brussels Midi station on 15 August, despite producing a Belgian identity card, passport, health insurance dockets and a bank card.

Police refused to accept that the young woman’s proofs of identity and resorted to contacting her mother to prove the nationality of the girl.

Although Bicha’s mother had been a naturalised Belgian since 1995 and produced several photographs of her to prove the identity of her daughter, Bicha was arrested and spent the night in jail.

Police then contacted the Foreign Office who, without any further verification, issued Bicha’s expulsion orders, citing that she did not have a suitable visa in her passport to visit Belgium… despite having a Belgian passport.

Bicha was then escorted to the Bruges detention centre before finally being dropped off at Bruges station on Monday afternoon without an apology for the blunder.

The Foreign Office have recognised that an error was made, which was not the first case of its kind - several Belgians of foreign origin have been detained for even longer periods than Bicha.

The young woman has lodged an official complaint against the police and Foreign Office.

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