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Can Inspection Produce Meaningful Change in Immigration Detention?

Abtract: Although prison inspection in the United Kingdom has a long history, inspection of immigration detention was properly established only in 2004. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP), a government-appointed independent human rights-based monitoring institution, holds this responsibility. In this GDP Working Paper, a lead HMIP inspector discusses the nature and impact of the Inspectorate's work, examining both the theory and practice of inspection. The paper places the discussion in the broader context of prison reform and debates on migration and border controls. The author argues that in liberal-democratic societies there are two broad approaches to promoting human rights reforms and challenging abuses: working from the inside to achieve progress with the risk that principles may be compromised and good intentions confounded; or promoting change from the outside, which is more uncompromising but less influential, at least in the short-term. This is a dilemma that confronts human rights based inspection of immigration detention in the UK. The main focus of HMIP is on improving the treatment of detainees and conditions in detention, not challenging the system of detention, even if immigration detention policy arguably lacks legitimacy in a way that criminal imprisonment does not. The author explores the “effectiveness” of detention inspection and whether inspection can be said to have promoted meaningful change.

Immigration Detention in the United States

The United States operates the world’s largest immigration detention system. On any given day, the country has some 30,000 people in administrative immigration detention at an estimated cost of nearly $150 a day. In 2016, the combined budget of enforcement agencies was $19 billion. The country’s sprawling detention estate counts on some 200 facilities, including privately operated detention facilities, local jails, juvenile detention centres, field offices, and euphemistically named “family residential centres.” The country has also supported the detention of migrants and asylum seekers in neighbouring countries.

Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee: Denmark

Immigration Detention in Denmark

Denmark has introduced increasingly restrictive policies regarding foreigners. An amendment to the Aliens Act provides “special circumstances” for detaining asylum seekers, including the detention of asylum seekers who are part of “massive arrivals.” Other controversial measures include allowing police to seize the valuables of asylum seekers, the temporary postponement of the right to family reunification, new restrictions on the ability to obtain a permanent residence permit, and the shortening of the length of temporary residence permits.

Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Slovakia

Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Bulgaria

Submission to the Human Rights Committee: Thailand

Immigration Detention in Slovakia

The Slovak Republic has pursued restrictive and discriminatory immigration policies since the onset of the refugee crisis in early 2015, even though the country has not faced nearly the same pressures as its European neighbours. Although the number of immigration-related detained is not very high—reflecting its relatively low apprehension numbers—there are indications of increasing numbers of families with children being placed in detention without consideration of alternatives. 

Sovereign Discomfort: Can Liberal Norms Lead to Increasing Immigration Detention?

Many liberal democracies betray a noticeable discomfort when it comes to public scrutiny of immigration detention, neglecting to release comprehensive statistics about it, cloaking detention practices in misleading names and phrases, and carefully choosing which activities they define as deprivation of liberty. On the other hand, these same countries have labored to expand their detention activities and to encourage their neighbors to do the same. What explains this simultaneous reticence towards and embrace of immigration detention? In this chapter for the 2016 Springer volume Immigration Detention, Risk and Human Rights, Michael Flynn argues that a largely unrecognized variable influencing the evolution of immigration detention has been the promotion of some key human rights norms, which has helped spur states to adopt new institutions dedicated to this practice while at the same time prompting them to shift the burden of global migration to countries on the periphery of the international system. Selections from the book are available online here

Immigration Detention in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean, has worked to limit unauthorized migration as a means to boost its tourism appeal. It opened a dedicated immigration detention centre in 2009. The country’s immigration laws also provide criminal penalties for various violations, including six-month prison sentences for re-entry after expulsion.  

Submission to the UN Committee against Torture: Turkey

Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers: Turkey

Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers: Indonesia

Immigration Detention in Nauru

Nauru operates a controversial offshore processing centre for Australia that accommodates asylum seeking men, women, and children. The facility, which is part of Australia’s “Pacific Solution,” has been the focus of global condemnation because of the mistreatment of detainees, high profile cases concerning the detention of children, and Australia’s long track record of employing policies that enable it to evade adhering to international norms and obligations concerning the treatment of asylum seekers.

The Plight of Children and Women Seeking Asylum in Australia

Mariette Grange served as a panelist at this side event to the UN Human Rights Council. The event was organized by Edmund Rice International, Franciscans International, Destination Justice, and ChilOut. Other panelists included Phil Glendenning, Refugee Council of Australia; Mohammad Ali Baqiri, former detainee at the offshore detention centre in Nauru and the 2015 ChilOut Youth Ambassador; and Claire Mahon of the Global Human Rights Clinic.

Immigration Detention in Sweden

For many years, Sweden was lauded for its comparatively humane treatment of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. However, reflecting a wave of get-tough policies announced by other European countries in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, in early 2016 Sweden announced that it was introducing new border controls and planning to deport an estimated 80,000 non-citizens who fail to qualify for refugee status.

Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Qatar

Submission for the CMW-CRC General Comment on the Human Rights of Children in the Context of International Migration

Immigration Detention in Guatemala

Guatemala is a source country as well as a key migrant transit state linking North and South America. It has also served as an entry point for thousands of “extracontinental” migrants and asylum seekers who hope to continue their journeys north. Mexico and the United States have long pressured the country to halt the movement of foreigners across its borders. U.S. immigration authorities have at times provided direct economic assistance for detaining foreigners. Guatemala has used a range of detention facilities for this purpose, including euphemistically named centros de albergue (“shelters”) as well as dilapidated former hotels and naval bases.

Who Is Responsible for Harm in Immigration Detention? Models of Accountability for Private Corporations

This paper argues that private corporations can and should be held responsible for structural injustices that take place in immigration detention regimes in which they operate. It draws on literature from business ethics to evaluate various ethical arguments for assessing corporate responsibility, emphasising models that may lead to the prevention of harm and suffering. In particular, the paper employs a social connection model of ethics as well as evidence of detention practices in Europe, the United States, and Australia to address a number of inter-related questions: How is immigration detention harmful? Who is responsible for this harm? How can responsible institutions reduce harm? The paper concludes by arguing that in addition to corporations and states, citizens and non-citizens have obligations to share in efforts to reduce the harm of immigration-related detention. 

Privatization in the International Arena

Michael Flynn presented a paper on non-state actor involvement in immigration detention regimes at this conference, which was held at the California Western School of Law in San Diego and cosponsored by the University of California, San Diego, and the Scholars Strategy Network. More information is avaiable here.  

Border Criminologies: Assessing the Changing Architecture of Crime and Punishment

There is increasing convergence between criminal and immigration law as states respond to the challenges of international migration by erecting and enforcing tougher visa and border controls. Many countries have put the criminal justice system to work in managing migration. The numbers of foreign nationals in prison or in immigration detention centres have consequently surged. This paper examines the particular perspective that criminology provides in explaining and critiquing these developments. While the field has been slow to respond to immigration detention, often clinging to a nationalist vision of the administration of justice, over the past decade scholars in the nascent field of “Border Criminologies” have begun assessing the changing architecture of crime and punishment. Their research has drawn on the traditions of applied research about state control, producing accounts of policing, imprisonment, and detention. While work still needs to be done to broaden the intellectual reach of this new subfield, this paper argues that criminology offers a rich, critical heritage as well as a set of methods through which to understand these policy developments.

Submission to the Human Rights Committee: Sweden

Submission to the Human Rights Committee: Costa Rica

Immigration Detention in Thailand

Thailand hosts more than four million migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Officials have broad discretionary powers to place non-citizens in detention and there is no detention time limit. Severe overcrowding is endemic at detention facilities and conditions are reportedly abysmal, including for the thousands of foreign children who are detained annually.

Immigration Detention in Oman

An important destination for migrant workers and refugees from Asia and Africa, Oman also has one of the strictest immigration enforcement regimes in the Gulf. It has sought to increase the percentage of citizens in its labour force (“Omanisation”) and implemented mass detention and deportation campaigns, leading to the forced removal of both refugees and undocumented migrants, who are termed “infiltrators” in immigration law.

Immigration Detention in Qatar

Qatar has been under intense scrutiny since it was selected to host the 2022 World Cup games. The international spotlight has brought widespread attention to the abuses that foreign workers face in the country. Despite official promises of reform observers argue that little has changed for most of the country’s 1.5 million migrant labourers, an increasing number of whom have been targeted for detention and removal in recent years.

Immigration Detention in Saudi Arabia

What we know about immigration detention in Saudi Arabia comes from scattered press accounts and reports by human rights organizations that rely on information provided by former detainees after they have been deported. While our knowledge of the Saudi detention regime remains very incomplete, these reports make clear that detention has become an important tool in the government’s efforts restrict unauthorized foreign workers, particularly as the number of people targeted for removal from the country has skrocketed in recent years. 

Immigration Detention in United Arab Emirates

Despite its efforts to cultivate a reputation as a bastion of culture and tourism in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates imposes harsh conditions on foreign workers, systematically represses those who speak out about abuses, and prevents investigations of its detention and incarceration of non-citizens. What little information is available about detention must be gleaned through reviewing relevant legislation, media reports, reports from foreign governments, as well as studies undertaken by international NGOs. Taken together, these sources appear to point to a burgeoning immigration detention regime in the UAE that has little independent review or oversight.

Immigration Detention in Kuwait

Kuwait is an important destination for migrant workers from across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Despite its reliance on foreign labourers, the country has in recent years carried out a series of enforcement actions targeting non-citizens for arrest and deportation, in particular people without valid residence papers or work visas. Successive crackdowns have led to the expulsion of tens of thousands of people during the last two years as well as over-crowding in detention centres and prisons.

Immigration Detention in Bahrain

Wracked by sectarian conflict and with a growing expat population that now outnumbers citizens, Bahrain has struggled to develop humane policies for its foreign workers. Although the country has adopted labour reforms and set up new rights-related institutions, observers say there is a significant gap between stated intentions and reality on the ground.

Immigration Detention in Indonesia

Described by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as “a key transit country for irregular migrant movements,” Indonesia has dozens of immigration detention facilities, many of which have been denounced for their terrible conditions. The growth of Indonesia’s detention capacities has been largely driven by the policies and practices of Australia, with assistance provided by the IOM.

Immigration Detention in Belize

Belize’s immigration detention practices contrast with the policies of neighbouring countries in key ways. In particular, the country provides criminal sanctions for immigration-related infractions and appears to be the only nation in Central America that does not have a dedicated administrative immigration detention facility.

THE UNCOUNTED: The Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers in Europe

Based on a two-year investigation seeking basic details and statistics about immigration detention practices in 33 countries across Europe and North America, this joint report by the GDP and Access Info Europe reveals that in many countries it is impossible to obtain an accurate picture of the number of migrants and asylum seekers being held in detention. Information is frequently unavailable, many countries refuse to answer freedom of information requests, and when information is released or publicly available it is often incomplete or based on unclear measures that do not fully capture what is happening on the ground. The report concludes that in Europe in particular there is not sufficient transparency in detention regimes to be able to develop a coherent picture of the treatment of detainees or to make informed policy decisions, a fact that is all the more alarming given the large number refugees and asylum seekers currently being apprehended across the continent. Read report here.

Immigration Detention in the Gulf

Labour migrants are a backbone of the economies of all the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council--Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. While much has been reported on the abuses these workers often suffer, very little is known about what happens to them when they are arrested and detained. This GDP Special Report helps fill this gap. Based on a two-year investigation, this report shows that while all the Gulf states provide constitutional guarantees against arbitrary or unlawful arrest and imprisonment, they all make widespread use of forms of immigration-related detention for the purposes of punishing or deporting foreigners, often in situations that may be considered arbitrary or otherwise contrary to human rights norms. Read report.

Detaining Outsiders: Migrants, Borders, and Security

Research undertaken by the Global Detention Project indicates that an often over-looked variable shaping detention policies and practices is the response by states to pressure stemming from key international norms relevant to the rights of non-citizens, including the right to liberty and security of the person.

Detention in Latin America

In late November, Michael Flynn participated in a series of lectures and workshops in Buenos Aires organized by the University of Lanus (Centro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos), UNHCR, the IOM, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, as well as several other local and regional organizations around the theme of human rights and migration in Latin America. Flynn's presentations focused on how immigration detention practices in South America compare to practices in others regions of the globe and lessons to be learned from these comparisons.

Detention Norms and Lebanon

On 17 November Izabella Majcher gave a training session titled "Freedom of Movement and Restrictions thereof, including Detention" as part of the International Refugee Law Course for Lebanese officials organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and UNHCR in Sanremo, Italy.

Immigration Detention in Argentina

Argentina rarely applies immigration detention measures and the length of detention tends to be very short. In 2015, it adopted regulations aimed at establishing specific immigration detention procedures. There are recent cases of people being detained for long periods in inadequate conditions and new government initiatives seek to boost deportation numbers.

The CJEU’s Ruling in Celaj: Criminal penalties, entry bans and the Returns Directive

In its ruling in the Skerdjan Celaj case (C-290/14), rendered on 1st October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) addressed once again the relation between immigration and criminal law and in particular the compatibility of national penal measures imposed as a punishment for irregular migration with the EU Returns Directive. In the previous cases touching upon this issue, the Court assessed whether the Directive allowed states to penalize non-compliance with a return order or irregular stay itself with imprisonment (El Dridi and Achughbabian, respectively) and with home detention (Sagor) as a criminal law penalty (as distinct from administrative law detention, which is expressly regulated by the Directive). In turn, in Celaj the Luxembourg judges were requested to consider whether a criminal law sentence of imprisonment imposed for a breach of a re-entry ban was compatible with the Returns Directive. (Read entire entry.)

From Bare Life to Bureaucratic Capitalism: Analyzing the Growth of the Immigration Detention Industry as a Complex Organization

The work of post-structuralist political philosopher Giorgio Agamben (1998, 2005) has had a major influence on the study of immigration detention in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, his concepts homo sacer (“bare life”) and “zones of exemption” depict the growth of immigration detention regimes as an expression of sovereign power through inclusive exclusion. In other words, states demonstrate their power to confer rights upon their citizens by denying those rights to others. This paper argues that post-structuralist approaches to the study of immigration detention present a number of theoretical and conceptual problems. Post-structuralist analyses focusing on discourses divorced from actors present teleological problems in terms of theory. Additionally, post-structural accounts of detention centers using concepts such as homo sacer and Banoptican (see Bigo 2007) tend to conflate human rights and citizenship rights, which does not hold up empirically because many asylum seekers and irregular migrants still have access to legal redress. In contrast to post-structural accounts, the notion of “bureaucratic capitalism” developed by sociologist Gideon Sjoberg (1999) provides an analytical framework that is both critical and non-deterministic in explaining the motives of many actors involved in detention regimes. Specifically, immigration detention can be explained by employing conceptual tools useful for understanding complex organizations that focus on the corporate-state nexus; human agency; rationalization processes like specialization and division of labor; hierarchy, responsibility, and blameability; and secrecy systems. This paper reviews the literature on the post-structuralist debate of immigration detention and provides primary and secondary data on the growth of detention in the US and Europe, the financial resources employed, and the role of social actors and their relations organized according to Sjoberg’s conceptual framework. It concludes by arguing that this alternative meso-level theory provides critical insights into detention regimes as well as the role of private- and public-sector interests seeking rents. Moreover, seeing immigration detention as a complex organization helps reveal the causes of human rights violations as well as their possible redress

Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): Lebanon

Immigration Detention in El Salvador

Nearly 40 percent of El Salvador’s population lives abroad and yet the country makes a concerted effort to remove undocumented foreigners. Although immigration detention is not properly regulated in Salvadoran law, the country has established a specialised detention facility, which holds more than a 1,000 people a year as they await deportation.

Immigration Detention in Honduras

Better known as the source of tens of thousands of undocumented children smuggled to North America in recent years, Honduras also has a long history detaining foreigners transiting its territory, at times with support from the United States. The country reportedly detained 2,526 migrants in 2013 and 1,198 in in 2012.

Immigration Detention in Nicaragua

One of the poorest countries in the Americas, Nicaragua nevertheless has specific immigration detention laws and policies and maintains a dedicated immigration detention in Managua, which it terms an albergue (or shelter). Asylum seekers can be subject to detention while other vulnerable groups, including children and victims of trafficking, tend to be housed in shelters.

Immigration Detention in Malaysia

Malaysia is a magnet for migrants and asylum seekers despite its poor human rights record and failure to ratify key human rights treaties. Illegal entry and stay is criminalized and migrants often serve prison sentences before being transferred to one of twelve “immigration depots” while awaiting deportation. Caning, a legacy of British colonial rule, is widespread. In 2013, more than 5,000 foreigners were caned.

Immigration Detention in Costa Rica

An important transit and destination country, Costa Rica began systemically applying immigration detention in the 1990s in response to migratory pressures from neighboring Nicaragua. The country currently operates two dedicated detention facilities, which have been criticized by national rights bodies for having inadequate sanitary conditions.

Immigration Detention in Panama

An important destination country in Central America, Panama has in recent years overhauled its migration policies in part as a response to a landmark case at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights involving the detention of migrants. Since the case was launched, Panama has adopted a new migration law, decriminalized immigration violations, and established new dedicated detention centres euphemistically called "albergues" (or shelters).

Submission to the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture in advance of its visit to Italy

Annual Conference of the International Social Theory Consortium, University of Cambridge

Prof. Matthew Flynn of Georgia Southern University, a GDP contributing researcher, presented his GDP Working Paper titled "Bureacratic Capitalism and the Immigration Detention Complex" at the Annual Conference of the International Social Theory Consortium, University of Cambridge, 17-19 June 2015 (http://socialtheory.org/2015-annual-conference.html).

Bureaucratic Capitalism and the Immigration Detention Complex

The work of post-structuralist political philosopher Giorgio Agamben (1998,2005) has had a major influence on the study of immigration detention in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, his concepts homo sacer (“bare life”) and “zones of exemption” depict the growth of immigration detention practices as an expression of sovereign power through inclusive exclusion. In other words, states demonstrate their power to confer rights upon their citizens by denying those rights to others. This paper argues that post-structuralist approaches to the study of immigration detention present a number of theoretical and conceptual problems. Post-structuralist analyses focusing on discourses divorced from actors present teleological problems in terms of theory.  Additionally, poststructural accounts of detention centres using concepts such as homo sacer and Banoptican (see Bigo 2007) tend to conflate human rights and citizenship rights, which does not hold up empirically because many asylum seekers and irregular migrants still have access to legal redress. In contrast to post-structural accounts, the notion of “bureaucratic capitalism” developed by sociologist Gideon Sjoberg (1999) provides an analytical framework that is both critical and non-deterministic in explaining the motives of many actors involved in detention regimes. Specifically, immigration detention can be explained by employing conceptual frameworks used to assess the corporate-state nexus; human agency; rationalization processes like specialization and division of labour; hierarchy, responsibility, and blameability; and secrecy systems. Sjoberg’s mesolevel theory provides critical insights into detention regimes in the United States and Europe as well as the role of private- and public-sector interests seeking rents. Moreover, focusing on the organization of detention helps reveal the causes of human rights violations as well as their possible redress. Read paper.

Bureaucratic Capitalism and the Immigration Detention Complex

This GDP Working Paper contrasts post-structuralism analyses of immigration detention regimes to the analytic frameworks provided in bureaucratic capitalism to help uncover some of motives driving detention policies.

Children in Immigration Detention: Challenges of Measurement and Definition

This GDP discussion paper advances preliminary proposals on a methodology for designating detention situations of child migrants and asylum seekers.

Children in Immigration Detention: Challenges of Measurement and Definition

The campaign to end the detention of children, including child migrants and asylum seekers, has generated impressive global momentum. However, there remain important gaps in this effort, including the absence of an adequate definition of the immigration detention of children and inherent problems in developing realistic statistics to measure state activities. The objective of this GDP paper is to help encourage discussion of this issue by making some preliminary proposals on a way forward, in particular by proposing the development of a methodology that would allow for careful designation of custodial arrangements focusing narrowly on the facilities used to accommodate child migrants and asylum seekers. Read report.

entreParentesis

Mariette Grange gave a presentation on immigration detention practices in Europe at this Jesuit-organized initiative aimed at improving cross-border dialogue, which was held in Madrid on 28 May. More information about this initiative is available here

Immigration Detention in Ecuador

Ecuador has been widely lauded for adopting the principle of “universal citizenship” in its 2008 Constitution. However, in recent years, the country seems to have backtracked with respect to its reception of migrants and asylum seekers. Although it is one of the most important countries of refuge in Latin America, hosting tens of thousands of refugees from Colombia, Ecuador has recently sought to narrow the definition of refugee and its asylum recognition rate has plummeted. It has also begun imposing visa restrictions for people from many countries in Asia and Africa. This more restrictive migration environment has appeared to parallel stepped up detention and deportation efforts. During 2010-2011, for instance, authorities conducted massive immigration control operations aimed at rounding up people from Colombia, Cuba, and Pakistan. In 2010, 2,662 non-citizens were reportedly placed in immigration detention, compared to 1,338 in 2008.

The Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Mediterranean Region

With the recent tragic surge in the number of deaths at sea of asylum seekers and other migrants attempting to reach Europe, enormous public attention is being focused on the treatment of these people across the Mediterranean. An important migration policy employed throughout the region is detention, including widespread deprivation of liberty of asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups. This Global Detention Project background paper is intended to highlight some of the vulnerabilities that people seeking international protection face when they are taken into custody in Mediterranean countries and to underscore the way that European Union-driven policies have impacted the migratory phenomenon in the region. The report focuses on eight key countries in Europe and North Africa. While there are clear differences in treatment from one side of the Mediterranean to the next, looked at collectively, the protection environment across all the countries in the region is bleak. Not surprisingly, the conditions of detention asylum seekers face in North African countries are often horrific and inhumane. However, in Europe, there are also serious shortcomings. In fact, as this backgrounder reports, reception and detention conditions in three of Europe’s main asylum receiving countries (Greece, Italy, and Malta) are so inadequate that many of their EU counterparts have been forced to halt returns to these countries under the Dublin III Regulation. Read report.

Submission to the European Ombudsman

Submission in relation to the European Ombudsman's own-initiative inquiry concerning the means through which Frontex ensures respect for fundamental rights in joint return operations.

The Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Mediterranean Region

Liberty or Security? Human Rights and the Expanding Landscape of Immigration Detention

Michael Flynn's presented his paper "Liberty or Security? Human Rights and the Expanding Landscape of Immigration Detention" at the conference "Detention on a Global Scale: Punishment and Beyond," which hosted by the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at the Yale Law School on 9-10 April. 

The Elastic Frontier

Searching for Safe Haven

Immigration Detention under EU Law and International Obligations of Member States

Submission to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD)

This submission is provided in response to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s March 2015 Call for Input on the revised “Draft Principles and Guidelines on remedies and procedures on: The right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty by arrest or detention to bring proceedings before a court without delay, in order that the court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his or her detention and order his or her release if the detention is not lawful.”

Submission to the Committee on Migrant Workers: List of Issues Prior to Reporting: Honduras

Submission to the Committee on Migrant Workers: List of Issues Prior to Reporting: Nicaragua

Submission to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in response to March 2015 Call for Input on the revised “Draft Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of His or Her

Does Privatization Explain the Poor Treatment of People in Immigration Detention?

Concealing and Revealing: The Role of Liberal Norms in the Evolution of Detention Regimes

Discipline and Punish? Analysis of the Purposes of Immigration Detention in Europe

Pre-removal detention is usually considered an administrative measure aimed at the facilitation of the removal of irregular migrants by preventing them from absconding during removal proceedings. The administrative nature of immigration detention implies that persons subject to this measure do not have access to the fair trial guarantees that criminal detainees are entitled to. However, the assessment of pre-removal detention under European Union and Swiss legislation demonstrates the penal nature of such detention despite its formal administrative classification. The penal nature of immigration detention is most easily revealed by the explicit deterrent—if not punitive—function it is supposed to fulfill in order to force foreigners to cooperate in their own removal procedure. Moreover, this penal nature may also be deducted from the more implicit purpose of immigration detention to punish irregular migrants and asylum seekers for criminal offences. The discrepancy between the administrative label of immigration detention and its punitive nature should be remedied. Arguably, the use of pre-removal detention should be limited to a truly administrative purpose, i.e. for very short periods of time allowing the state to prevent concrete risks of absconding once removal is about to be enforced. Alternatively, if the existing legal framework fails to prevent the use of immigration detention according to disciplinary or punitive functions, immigration detainees should be afforded guarantees comparable to those applied in criminal proceedings.

Immigration detention in Europe: What are the facts? A new European Migration Network Study

Immigration Detention in Austria

Discipline and Punish? Analysis of the Purposes of Immigration Detention in Europe

Immigration detention in Europe: What are the facts? A new European Migration Network Study

La détention liée au statut migratoire: cadre juridique, spécificité et défis pour la recherche

Children in Immigration Detention: A Hidden Problem

Global Detention Project launches as independent association

The Global Detention Project (GDP) announces today that it has re-launched as an independent non-profit research centre after being based for eight years at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

European Union Immigration Detention Regime: A Manifestation of Crimmigration?

Immigration Detention in Egypt

Immigration Detention in Germany

Migrations et frontières: chercheurs, praticiens et artistes croisent leurs regards

Irregular Migration in the EU and Italy: Are New Criteria Needed to Manage and Control?

Measuring Immigration Detention: An Introduction to the Global Detention Project's Data Design and Methodology

Panelist at UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s Stakeholders Consultation to prepare draft principles and guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right to court review of detention

Submission to the Committee on Migrant Workers: Issues regarding Immigration detention in Mauritania and Belize

Dialogue examining the global expansion of immigration-related detention practices

The EU Returns Directive and the Use of Prisons for Detaining Migrants in Europe

Can immigration detainees be held in prisons? Can they be confined alongside ordinary prisoners? Last Thursday 17 July 2014, in its decisions on the joint cases of Bero & Bouzalmate (C-473/13 & C-514/13) and the case of Pham (C-474/13), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its opinion on this practice.

Human Rights Violations during EU Border Surveillance and Return Operations: Frontex’ Shared Responsibility or Complicity?

As the International Law Association highlights “[power] entails accountability, that is the duty to account for its exercise.” Against this background, the article focuses on the question of accountability of the European Union (EU) border agency Frontex for potential human rights violations that may occur in the course of its operations. The article aims to challenge the Frontex’ stance that solely states would bear responsibility for any wrongful act. Rather, it is argued here, Frontex may incur responsibility, alongside a wrongdoing state. Shared responsibility or responsibility for complicity that may arise in such circumstances would reflect intertwined acts and powers of various actors involved in Frontex’ operations.

Presentation on Global Detention Project Database

There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention

From Mexico to the Bahamas, Mauritania to Lebanon, Turkey to Saudi Arabia, South Africa to Indonesia, Malaysia to Thailand, immigration-related detention has become an established policy apparatus that counts on dedicated facilities and burgeoning institutional bureaucracies. Until relatively recently, however, detention appears to have been largely an ad hoc tool, employed mainly by wealthy states in exigent circumstances. This paper uses concepts from diffusion theory to detail the history of key policy events in several important immigration destination countries that led to the spreading of detention practices during the last 30 years and assesses some of the motives that appear to have encouraged this phenomenon. The paper also endeavors to place the United States at the center of this story because its policy decisions appear to have played an important role in encouraging the process of policy innovation, imitation, and imposition that has helped give rise to today’s global immigration detention phenomenon. Nevertheless, many US offshore practices have not received nearly the same attention as those of other important destination countries.  More broadly, in telling this story, this paper seeks to flesh out some of the larger policy implications of the externalization of immigration control regimes. Just as offshore interdiction and detention schemes raise important questions about custody, accountability, and sovereignty, they should also spur questions over where responsibility for the wellbeing of migrants begins and ends. 

Presentation comparing Japan’s detention practices to those of other countries

On the Maturation of Immigration Detention: Theories and Evidence

The EU Returns Directive and the Use of Prisons for Detaining Migrants in Europe

Immigration Detention in Tunisia

There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention

Alternativas al Internamiento de Inmigrantes en Situacion Irregular

Participant at UNHCR Global Detention Strategy Meeting

Participant at Expert Consultation held at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on a new Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

Immigration Detention in Lebanon

How and Why Immigration Detention Crossed the Globe

This GDP Working Paper provides an account of how key policies and practices related to immigration detention spread between various countries during the last three decades. Read paper.

Panelist at a workshop on the future of immigration in Europe that was part of the annual conference of the German newspaper Tageszeitung

Participant at Expert Meeting on Indicators on the Human Rights of Migrants organized in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva (OHCHR), the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD)

Immigration Detention in Turkey

Immigration Detention in Greece

How and Why Immigration Detention Crossed the Globe

This paper describes the mechanisms that have encouraged the global spread of immigration detention polices and practices.

Participant at Fiducia workshop on the criminalisation of migrants

Crimmigration in the European Union: The Case of Immigration Detention

For over a decade U.S immigration scholars and practitioners have observed a growing convergence between criminal justice and migration control systems. Regular posts at the crImmigration.com blog document the spread of this phenomenon in the U.S. This post, which builds on the author’s Global Detention Project working paper “Crimmigration” in the European Union through the Lens of Immigration Detention, aims to give some insights into how the phenomenon of crimmigration has influenced the European Union (EU) legal system.

Immigration Detention in Morocco

Crimmigration in the European Union: The Case of Immigration Detention

Immigration Detention in New Zeland

Immigration Detention in Hungary

Questionnaire related to the “Draft Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of His or Her Liberty by Arrest or Detention to Bring Proceedings Before Court.”

Submission for the European Commission’s Home Affairs Public Consultation “Debate on the future of Home Affairs policies: An open and safe Europe – what next?”

Does making immigration detention more humane make it more widespread?

Alternatives to detention

Immigration Detention in Malta

Does making immigration detention more humane make it more widespread?

Immigration Detention in Ireland

Immigration Detention in the EU: De Facto Criminalization?

Immigration Detention and the EU Stockholm Programme: Trends and Challenges

Presentation on the challenges and importance of developing systematic data on detention centres at a workshop

Whither Alternatives to Detention

Immigration, Human Rights, and Language

Whither Alternatives to Detention

Keynote presentation at the Council of Europe conference

Presentation on working with rights advocates to develop data construction on immigration detention laws and policies

The European Union Returns Directive: Does it prevent arbitrary detention

This article provides a critical analysis of immigration detention regime under European Union (EU) law. It assesses the relevant provisions of the EU Returns Directive and their domestic implementation in several EU states against the underlying requirement for any deprivation of liberty not to amount to arbitrary detention. Three elements embodied in this requirement are highlighted: the exceptional nature of pre-removal detention, its use as a last resort, and its shortest possible length. The article argues that by using broad terms, the EU Returns Directive falls short of providing for strong safeguards against arbitrary immigration detention. In fact, pre-removal detention imposed in an automatic manner and for lengthy periods is not necessarily incompatible with the EU Returns Directive. Moreover, national authorities may actually use some of its provisions to justify more stringent measures.

Immigration, Human Rights, and Language: New Research from the Global Detention Project

The European Union Returns Directive: Does it prevent arbitrary detention?

Be careful what you wish for

The Hidden Costs of Human Rights: The Case of Immigration Detention

Many liberal democracies betray a noticeable discomfort when it comes to public scrutiny of immigration detention, neglecting to release comprehensive statistics about it, cloaking detention practices in misleading names and phrases, and carefully choosing which activities they define as deprivation of liberty. On the other hand, these same countries have laboured to expand their detention activities and to encourage their neighbours to do the same. What explains this simultaneous reticence towards and embrace of immigration detention? This Global Detention Project working paper argues that a largely unrecognized variable influencing the evolution of immigration detention has been the promotion of some key human rights norms, which has helped spur states to adopt new institutions dedicated to this practice while at the same time prompting them to shift the burden of global migration to countries on the periphery of the international system. Read paper.

“Crimmigration” in the European Union through the Lens of Immigration Detention

The phenomenon of “crimmigration”—or the convergence of criminal and immigration laws—appears to have a harmful impact on migrants, ranging from increasing negative attitudes about non-citizens to more restrictive immigration policies. This Global Detention Project working paper argues that immigration detention regulated by European Union (EU) directives represents a peculiar manifestation of crimmigration. In particular, detention provisions laid down in the Returns Directive and the recently revised Reception Conditions Directive selectively incorporate criminal justice objectives while rejecting protective features that are provided in criminal processes. Thus, while immigration detention sanctioned by EU directives may pursue objectives similar to those of criminal justice—retribution, deterrence, or incapacitation—detainees are not entitled to due process guarantees afforded to their criminal counterparts. This paper argues that in cases where formally administrative immigration detention is punitive in practice, detainees should be granted broader procedural protections, including presumption in favour of non-custodial alternatives to detention, automatic review of detention, personal hearings, and legal and linguistic assistance. Read paper.

Smoke Screens: Is There a Correlation between Migration Euphemisms and the Language of Detention?

Discursive strategies used to describe people moving across borders can have consequences on their well-being, including limiting their access to legal procedures. This Global Detention Project working paper points to an apparent paradox in these strategies: While language used to describe migrants and asylum-seekers is often euphemistic (or dysphemistic), tending to dehumanise them, language used to characterize their treatment in custody appears aimed at shielding detention from scrutiny. The paper suggests that in the field of immigration detention, the role and impact of misleading language on policy and perception appears to be quite significant and merits more attention from scholars and advocates. Read paper.

Be careful what you wish for

The Hidden Costs of Human Rights: The Case of Immigration Detention

Crimmigration” in the European Union through the Lens of Immigration Detention

Smoke Screens: Is There a Correlation between Migration Euphemisms and the Language of Detention?

Smoke Screens: Is There a Correlation between Migration Euphemisms and the Language of Detention?

“Crimmigration” in the European Union through the Lens of Immigration Detention

Global Trends in the Practice of Immigration Detention

Immigration Detention: A Global Phenomenon

Illegality Regimes in EU Law: The Case of Immigration Detention

Detention across Borders: The Global Legacy of U.S. Immigration Interdiction Practices

Alternatives to Detention

Submission to the Committee on Migrant Workers: Turkey

Immigration Detention in Japan

Working with Rights Advocates to Develop Reliable Information on Immigration Detention

Immigration Detention in Spain

Immigration Detention in Libya

Alternativas al Internamiento de Inmigrantes en Situacion Irregular

Immigration Detention in Poland

Liberty v. Security: How the Promotion of Fundamental Rights Can Encourage the Expansion of Immigration Detention.

Immigration Detention in Ukraine

Immigration Detention in Italy

Immigration Detention in Europe: Lessons for Asia

Quand la minorité impose sa loi à la majorité: paradoxes de la migration masculine dans les pays du Golfe Persique

Rethinking Pre-removal Immigration Detention in the United States: Lessons from Europe and Proposals for Reform

In July 2012, Refugee Survey Quarterly released an advanced-access online version of this forthcoming article by Christina Fialho, a former research intern at the Global Detention Project and founder of the California-based Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national network of immigration detention visitation programmes in the United States. The article examines the legality of lengthy detention of non-citizens held in pre-removal immigration detention in the United States, while presenting a comparative analysis of the European Union and four of its Member States. The article is available here.

Who Must Be Detained? Proportionality as a Tool for Critiquing Immigration Detention Policy

In July 2012, Refugee Survey Quarterly released an advanced-access online version of this forthcoming article by the GDP’s coordinator. The article endeavours to use the legal principle of proportionality as a tool to critique immigration detention practices and policies. To this end, the article proposes a methodology for assessing operations at detention centres that opens the phenomenon up to empirical study and allows for comparative research of detention practices across a multiplicity of cases. It then highlights a discrete set of dimensions that can be used to measure the degree to which states’ employment of detention is proportional to the limited ends established in law for this type of deprivation of liberty. The article can be accessed here.

A Survey of Private Contractor Involvement in U.S. Facilities Used to Confine People for Immigration-related Reasons

The private prison industry in the United States has grown significantly during the last several decades and along with it there has been an apparent increase in the outsourcing of services at facilities used for immigration detention purposes. However, while much has been written about private ownership and management of detention facilities, the phenomenon of non-state-actor involvement in immigration detention extends beyond these activities. For instance, while private contractors are responsible for overall management of some two dozen immigration-related detention facilities in the United States, this report demonstrates that private contractors provide a range additional services at nearly 100 prisons, shelters, and detention centers across the United States that have been used to hold migrants and asylum seekers.

European Summer School: European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum

A Survey of Private Contractor Involvement in U.S. Facilities Used to Confine People for Immigration-related Reasons

Developing Tools for Documenting Detention: Asylum Access Leadership Training

Immigration Detention and Children

Presentation at the conference “Dispelling Myths about Migration

Holding Patterns: Can Advocacy Efforts to Reform Migration Detention Inadvertently Lead to the Growth of Detention Regimes?

Immigration Detention in Canada

The Canadian Parliament is currently considering controversial “anti-smuggling” legislation which, if adopted, will “put a lot of emphasis on putting people behind bars before they get due process,” in the words of one member of Parliament. The legislation is part of a larger public debate in Canada regarding its social attitudes and legal responses to immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. This GDP special report aims to focus attention on one aspect of its immigration policy—detention—which could be significantly impacted by this debate. The report offers a comprehensive review of Canada’s immigration detention regime and attempts to situate its policies and practices in an international context to enable observers, policy makers, and engaged individuals—both in and outside Canada—to better observe how the country stacks up to its peers and the potential ramifications of its political decision-making.

Immigration Detention in Canada

Rethinking Pre-removal Immigration Detention in the United States: Lessons from Europe and Proposals for Reform

Who Must Be Detained? Proportionality as a Tool for Critiquing Immigration Detention Policy

Presentation on Global Detention Project data construction methodology

Immigration Detention in Angola

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

From its 2005 adoption of a controversial asylum measure—“one of the strictest pieces of legislation in Europe,” according to UNHCR—to its 2009 referendum banning the construction of minarets on mosques, Switzerland’s reaction to immigration has become increasingly antagonistic in recent years. Swiss detention and deporation practices have been duly impacted by this situation. This Global Detention Project special report provides a first-of-its-kind view of the Swiss immigration detention estate. When compared to detention facilities elsewhere in Europe, some Swiss detention sites—like its Frambois facility, located just outside Geneva—have decidedly good reputations for their humane conditions. On the other hand, many Swiss detention practices and policies have been heavily criticized. These include imposing detention regimes on administrative detainees that can be more punitive than those for criminal detainees; the excessive use of force during deportation proceedings, which has led to several deaths in the past decade; and the routine imposition of criminal sanctions for violations of the federal law on foreigners

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

An Introduction to Data Construction on Immigration-related Detention

The aim of this paper is to introduce activists and scholars to efforts by the Global Detention Project to construct rigorous data on the facilities used to detain irregular migrants and asylum seekers in detention as they await deportation or to have their claims assessed. The paper proposes a set of conceptual tools that can be used to study the evolution of detention systems and undertake comparative analysis of national detention estates. Using a broad assortment of material—including legal opinions, international norms, on-the-ground reports, and academic and human rights literature—the paper proposes a carefully circumscribed definition of migration-related detention as well as a framework for developing data on various dimensions of this
practice. It then discusses in detail a selection of variables to demonstrate the utility of an empirically-grounded approach to scholarship and advocacy on
this issue.

An Introduction to Data Construction on Immigration-related Detention

Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom

Europe’s Role in Expanding Detention Regimes

Global Roundtable on Alternatives to Detention

The Immigration Detention Code: Developing Tools for Documenting Detention Practices

The Detention of Non-citizens: An Empirical Primer

Immigration Detention in Tunisia

Immigration Detention and Proportionality

Immigration Detention in Israel

Immigration Detention and Proportionality

Immigration Detention in New-Zealand

Immigration Detention in Poland

Immigration Detention in Norway

Immigration Detention in Belize

Immigration Detention in Spain

Detention at the Borders of Europe: Report on the Joint Global Detention Project– International Detention Coalition Workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, 2‐3 October 2010

On 2-3 October 2010, the Global Detention Project (GDP) held a workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, on migration-related detention that included representatives from organizations in 12 countries in Europe and neighbouring regions, as well as several international migration scholars and
advocates. The workshop, which was jointly organized with the International Detention Coalition (IDC), an umbrella group whose membership includes nearly 200 immigrant and human rights organizations in some 50 countries,1 had several goals: (1) to share experiences working on detention issues in the border areas of Europe and assess factors shaping detention practices in these regions; (2) to encourage the development of a common framework for documenting operations at detention centres; and (3) to build working relations between local organisations and the GDP and IDC. The workshop represented a first-of-its-kind gathering of advocacy groups, immigration researchers, and legal specialists. This report highlights key aspects of the workshop, including observations from participants on the GDP’s efforts to develop standards for documenting detention situations, the impact of external forces on detention practices, and key national trends and developments.

"Detention at the Borders of Europe: Report on the Joint Global Detention Project - International Detention Coalition Workshop in Geneva, Switzerland

Joint Global Detention Project and International Detention Coalition Workshop: Detention at the Border of Europe

Immigration Detention and the Law: U.S. Policy and Legal Framework

One year ago, in August 2009, the Barack Obama administration announced that it intended to transform the much criticized U.S. immigration detention regime into a “truly civil detention system.” Among the planned changes were reducing the number of jails and prisons used to confined immigration detainees, implementing closer oversight of detention centers, improving the treatment of detainees, and restricting controversial practices like the detention of children.

Between then and now, the country has seen the debate over immigration become increasingly heated and divisive, fanned by the passage of contentious state laws like Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.”

This Global Detention Project working paper, “Immigration Detention and the Law: U.S. Policy and Legal Framework,” is intended to assist scholars, activists, practitioners, and concerned members of the public in taking stock of the current state of U.S. immigration detention policies. The paper covers everything from the country’s relevant international legal commitments and the grounds for detention provided in domestic law, to recent court rulings on the rights of detainees and the increasing trend in criminalizing immigration violations, particularly at the state and local level.

Immigration Detention and the Law: U.S. Policy and Legal Framework

Expert Group Meeting on the International Framework for Action to Implement the Migrant Smuggling Protocol

Discussant. "Extraterritoriality: The Juridical, Spatial, and Political Condition of Refugee Camps and Other Extraterritorial Spaces."

Immigration Detention and the Aesthetics of Incarceration

What Is the Global Detention Project

Migration and Detention: Mapping the International Legal Terrain

Migration and Detention: Mapping the International Legal Terrain

The Privatization of Immigration Detention: Towards a Global View

The phrase “private prison” has become a term of opprobrium, and for good reason. There are numerous cases of mistreatment and mismanagement at such institutions. However, in the context of immigration detention, this caricature hides a complex phenomenon that is driven by a number of different factors and involves a diverse array of actors who provide a range of services. This working paper employs research undertaken by the Global Detention Project (GDP)—an inter-disciplinary research project based at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies—to help situate the phenomenon of the privatization of immigration detention within a global perspective. Part of the difficulty in assessing this phenomenon is that our understanding of it is based largely on experiences in English-speaking countries. This working paper endeavors to extend analysis of this phenomenon by demonstrating the broad geographical spread of privatized detention practices across the globe, assessing the differing considerations that arise when states decide to privatize, and comparing the experiences of a sample of lesser known cases.

The Privatization of Immigration Detention: Towards a Global View

Presentation on developing working ties between the Global Detention Project and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Who Cares? The Right to Health of Migrants

International Legal Protection of Migrants and Refugees: Ghetto or Incremental Protection? Some Preliminary Comments

Europe: On Its Borders New Problems

Europe: On Its Borders New Problems

Where's the U.S. Border? Portraits of an Elastic Frontier

Where's the U.S. Border? Portraits of an Elastic Frontier

Who's Trying to Cross Our Southern Border? Everyone

Who's Trying to Cross the Border? Everyone

What's the Deal at Manta?

The United States said it would restrict its activities at Manta to anti-drug efforts—so why is it messing with migrants and more?

What's the Deal at Manta?

The Elastic Frontier

U.S.-Ecuador: Stretching Borders to Block Migrants

U.S.-Ecuador: Stretching Borders to Block Migrants

Searching for Safe Haven

Of the planet’s more than 6 billion people, some 240 million are on the move, fleeing war, persecution, poverty, environmental degradation, or just seeking a better life.

U.S. Immigration Policies: The Double Standard

Seeking Refuge

U.S. Immigration Policies: The Double Standard

Guatemala: Is This Peace?

Donde Esta La Frontera?

Millions try each year to slip into the United States through its “soft underbelly”—the U.S.- Mexico border. The solution: Move the border south.

Donde Esta La Frontera?