• France's news in English
Belgian police return migrants to France... and are arrested
Photo: AFP

Belgian police return migrants to France... and are arrested

The Local · 22 Sep 2016, 09:15

Published: 22 Sep 2016 09:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

All is not well on the frontiers of France.

While the migrant crisis has caused diplomatic tensions between the UK and France in Calais and France and Italy in the south east, there is now a potential spat building between Paris and Brussels.

On Tuesday two Belgian police officers who were in the in the process of returning a group of migrants over the border to France ended up being arrested.

They were held and asked to explain their actions.

It all began when a truck driver who had crossed from France heard noises coming from inside the vehicle’s trailer.

He alerted the Belgian police who found 13 migrants from Syria and Iraq inside, who had been hoping to make it across the Channel to the UK, but had boarded a truck heading in the wrong direction.

Since Belgian re-established border checks with France last February police have regularly picked up migrants and driven them back to the border, but they are not actually supposed to cross into France.

On Tuesday the Belgian police got a little disorientated and actually crossed the border near Nieppe.

“Our colleagues did not notice they had passed the border by around 50 metres,” said a spokesman for a Belgian police union.

They were then picked up by French police and taken in for questioning which lasted four hours, according to reports.

Although it is understood no action will be taken, the decision of the French police to haul in the Belgian counterparts has caused anger.

“When you think that they spent four hours without a lawyer and without an interpreter, it should have been noted that these are Flemish officers, because in Belgium we speak three languages. Plus we did not have the copy of the statement imposed on them,” said the Belgian police union spokesman.

Georges Aeck, the police chief of the Belgian town of Ypres, told local media that the migrants, including three children were escorted to the border because we did not want to leave them here, by the roadside and let them walk to the border on foot.”

Story continues below…

For their part French authorities have been left a little red faced and insisted the actions of their police officers does not represent general policy and practices between the two countries.

A police spokesman for France’s northern department of Nord said: “Talks are continuing between the authorities of both countries to continue good relations and cooperation, particularly in the area of immigration.”

France’s interior minister reportedly called his Belgian counterpart on Tuesday evening, but it is believed the minister also made it clear he was unhappy about Belgium advising their police to return migrants to the border.

This diplomatic incident may not quite have run its course.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available