Recent Country Updates

GDP News & Publications

  • New publication: Mugak, the magazine of the Centro de Estudios y Documentacion sobre Racismo y Xenophobia based in San Sebastian, Spain, published an article by Mariette Grange in its recent edition about "alternatives to detention," titled "Alternativas al Internamiento de Inmigrantes en Situacion Irregular." It is available here.

  • New publication: On 11 February, Izabella Majcher published an article on the blog "Crimmigraiton." The article, titled "Crimmigration in the European Union: The Case of Immigration Detention," is available here.

  • Interview: On 31 January, Michael Flynn was interviewed on Canada's CKNW radio  about challenges to accessing information about detention centres. The interview is available here.

  • Debate: In January 2014, Michelle Brane of the Women's Refugee Commission and Michael Flynn of the Global Detention Project had an online debate about the impact of advocacy strategies on immigration detention, which was published on the website of the New Internationalist. It is available here

     

  • New publication: Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration recently published an article by Izabella Majcher on detention provisions under the EU Returns Directive. The article, titled "The European Union Returns Directive: Does it prevent arbitrary detention?" is available here.
  • International Detention Coalition: In Fall 2013, the GDP's Izabella Majcher and Michael Flynn gave presentations on working with rights advocates to develop data on detention regimes at regional meetings of the International Detention Coalition in Amman, Jordan (19-21 November); Bangkok, Thailand (7-9 November); and Guatemala City (11-12 September).
  • Conference presentations: On 9-10 December 2013, the GDP's Izabella Majcher and Michael Flynn gave presentations on trends and challenges regarding immigration detention laws and practices at "Migration Policy Conference: Stockholm and Beyond," organized by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.
  • Workshop: On 6 December 2013, Michael Flynn participated in a workshop in Paris organized by the EU-wide NGO Migreurop, which coincided with the group's launching of a new map of immigration detention facilities in the European region. Flynn discussed challenges in developing data on detention centres and provided commentary on the effort made by Migreurop to do so.
  • New publication: On 4 December, "Border Criminologies" based at Oxford's Centre for Criminology published a GDP perspective piece on "alternatives to detention." It is available here.

  • New publication: On 4 November, Michael Flynn published on article on the web-based publication "Border Criminologies" based at Oxford's Centre for Criminology. The article, titled "Immigration, Human Rights, and Language," is available here.
    • New publication: In September, Oxford's Forced Migration Review published a special issue on the topic of immigration detention. The issue includes an article by Michael Flynn, Manager of the Global Detention Project. Flynn's article, titled "Be Careful What You Wish For," about the unintended impact of liberal norms on states' treatment of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, is available here: www.fmreview.org/detention/flynn.

    Apropos

    "The [new U.S. House of Representatives government funding bill] adds 2,000 agents at border ports and mandates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement 'maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds through September 30, 2014.' This represents, at a cost of 2.8 billion, 'the highest detention capacity in history.' It is mindless to keep throwing billions at border enforcement and detention at a time when illegal immigration [in the United States] is at historic lows. ... Why make the people who run a vast and expensive law-enforcement apparatus responsible for keeping prison beds warm rather than communities safe--especially when there are low-cost alternatives to detention that don't involve fattening the bottom lines of for-profit prison corporations?"

    New York Times, 20 January 2014

     

    “[Immigration] detention is the opposite of criminalization in the sense that it is putting people in prison without using the criminal process. ... The present system we have is one of administrative discretion that allows a vast amount of detention to go on without any proper rules of law and oversight. If there is going to be detention it should be criminal rather than administrative. That would make it much harder to detain. Governments would have to rethink because the criminal process is just a lot more difficult, and more costly, and more demanding.”

    Dan Wilsher, Presentation at the Graduate Institute, 8 March 2012.

     

    “The modern prison is assigned the task of administering its inmates’ lives to foster ‘docile and useful bodies.’ … The immigration detention center, by contrast, is a pre-modern prison--nothing more than a site for the punishment and permanent removal of ‘wasted’ bodies.”

    Shahran Khasravi, 'Illegal Traveller: An Ethnography of Border (Palgrave 2010)

     

    "Allowing the private sector to run immigration detention will mean ... an ever increasing number of people coming into the system and staying there longer ... as companies seek to maintain and expand their markets."

     
    Stephen Nathan, Presentation at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, 2 March 2010

     

    "Justice [Sonia] Sotomayor’s opinion in the [2009 U.S. Supreme Court] case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term 'undocumented immigrant,' according to a legal database. The term 'illegal immigrant' has appeared in a dozen decisions."

     
    New York Times, 8 December 2009

     

    Featured Countries

     

    Turkey

    In April, Turkey’s new Law on Foreigners and International Protection came into force, providing the country’s first overarching legal framework on migration and asylum. The law also contains new provisions on immigration detention and shifts oversight of Turkey’s detention centres from the national police to a new civilian institution. Although observers have welcomed the improved procedural standards provided in the law, they have been critical of its inclusion of controversial statutes found in EU legislation—including provisions for accelerated procedures for asylum seekers—and its failure to eliminate geographical limits on international protection. There are also concerns that the recent adoption of an EU-Turkey readmission agreement could add to the already considerable migratory pressures confronting Turkey because it will lead to growing numbers of third-country nationals being “sent back” to the country, where they will likely be detained on arrival. While Turkey has been repeatedly criticized for its often appalling detention conditions and restrictive asylum policies, international observers have lauded its efforts to accommodate Syrian refuges. As of March, there were approximately 800,000 Syrian refugees in the country, as well as more than 80,000 non-European asylum seekers.

     

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    Greece

    Greece has been ground zero in Europe’s efforts to halt irregular migration for several years. At the same time, the country’s economic crisis has exasperated social divisions leading to increasing violence and hostility directed at foreigners. With massive financial and operational assistance provided by the European Union, Greece has confronted migratory pressures by emphasizing interdiction, detention, and removal, to the detriment of the protection of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers. Conditions at its detention centres are regarded as among the worst in Europe, and numerous UN bodies have published scathing reports about the state of these facilities. In addition, domestic and regional courts have issued more than a dozen judgements condemning Greece’s detention practices. In one illustrative case from 2012, a judge in a domestic court acquitted several migrants of charges related to their escape from a detention facility in the port of Igoumenitsa on the basis that the conditions of their detention violated the country’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. 

     

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    New Zealand

    Often regarded as a positive example for its humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, New Zealand has significantly hardened its immigration rhetoric and laws in recent years, even as migratory pressures in the country diminish. Following the example of Canada and its neighbour Australia, New Zealand has adopted new legal provisions that provide the possibility for indefinite detention, mass—and, many critics argue, arbitrary—arrests, and the deprivation of liberty of minors. In addition, the country's conservative government has concluded an agreement with Australia that provides for the use of controversial offshore detention facilities to hold unauthorized maritime arrivals, which the country's leaders argue will help deter migrants and smugglers. On the other hand, the country has never experienced the type of migratory phenomenon its new laws and policies are purportedly aimed at addressing, raising important questions about the real motives behind its toughening posture and drawing parallels with Switzerland, which passed a law banning the construction of minarets while hardly any existed in first place.

     

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    Morocco

    Traditionally a country of emigration, Morocco is also an important transit country for sub-Saharan migrants seeking passage to Europe. Since the early 2000s, the European Union has pressured—and provided funding to—Morocco to stem the flow of migrants transiting the country. A Moroccan commission of enquiry into serious incidents along the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in 2005 observed that while reluctant to act as a policeman for Europe, Morocco had over time become a “cheap and natural detention centre." Although detention plays a role in Morocco's treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, in recent years crack downs on foreigners have been characterized by mass rounds and summary deportations, which observers claim are based on racial profiling by police.

     

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    Hungary

    Hungary is often characterized as an important transit country for migrants attempting to reach Western Europe. However, in its most recent reports, the EU border control agency Frontex does not mention Hungary as being one of the major migrant crossing points into the EU. An important source of international migrants in the country has been Afghanistan, with Afghan nationals fleeing the conflict in their country making up more than 40 percent of asylum seekers in 2012. Yet, at the same time, Hungary has systematically detained people seeking international protection. In fact, the country appears to be one of the only EU countries to set up a wholly separate detention regime for asylum seekers, adopting grounds of detention that are specific to those seeking asylum and establishing a separate detention facility for them. In June 2013, it transposed the EU (Recast) Reception Conditions Directive, even before the Directive had been formally adopted and promulgated. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criticised the country for adopting the Directive in a selective manner, focusing on detention-related provisions while leaving aside provisions on the needs of vulnerable persons.

     

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    Ireland

    Despite falling numbers of asylum seekers and far fewer foreign workers than in years past, Ireland has put increasing pressure on irregular third-country nationals to leave the country. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of people issued removal orders rose from 1,285 to 2,065. On the other hand, Ireland's annual detainee population has consistently dropped over the past decade. In 2003-2004, nearly 3,000 people were placed in prison for immigration-related reasons. More recently, in 2010, 459 people were detained; and in 2012, 385. Perhaps because of these falling numbers, Ireland has yet to build a dedicated immigration detention centre and some rights watchdogs, like the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture, have ceased pressuring the country to stop using prisons for immigration purposes.

     

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    Malta

    Officials in Malta have argued that unauthorized migration to the country has reached an “emergency scale” and that there is a “national crisis” with respect to administrative detention. When Maltese officials refer to this “crisis,” they argue that Malta represents an exceptional case due to its small size, high population density, and extensive maritime borders. To cope with boat arrivals Malta applies a form of mandatory detention which, although unique among EU countries, has some similarities to the policy pursued by Australia. Once undocumented non-citizens are issued removal orders, they are automatically subject to detention. Authorities claim that immigration detention is a “powerful deterrent” and serves as a form of punishment. As one government minister put it, “The message needs to … be received by everyone that entering Malta illegally will not go unpunished.”

     

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