NEWSLETTER: A Tale of Two Refugee Crises

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MARCH 2022

Welcome to the Global Detention Project’s roundup of current research, publications, and events. For any questions about our content, please contact us at: admin [at] globaldetentionproject [dot] org


A Tale of Two Refugee Crises  By Rachael Reilly & Michael Flynn
Inter Press Service, 7 March 2022

During the 2015 refugee “crisis” that drove more than a million people to Europe, the EU justified detaining arriving refugees for up to 18 months. Less than two weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and more than two million people had already fled into neighbouring EU countries. But don’t expect Brussels to call for their detention this time. Europe’s starkly different responses to these two situations—in addition to its draconian response to ongoing African migration across the Mediterranean—provide a cautionary lesson for those hoping for a more humane, generous Europe. But the Ukraine refugee crisis presents Europe with both an important opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the international refugee protection regime, as well as a critical moment of reflection: Can the peoples of Europe overcome widespread racism and animosity and embrace the universalist spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention?

PERU: Joint Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers  
Global Detention Project & Grupo de Movilidad Humana de la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
The joint submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers’ (34th Session 28 March – 8 April 2022) highlights concerns regarding Peru’s militarisation of border controls, which have become more severe since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and pointed to long-standing questions regarding immigration detention in the country. The GDP’s Mario Guido presented the submission to the Committee on Monday 28 March. Read the full submission here
POLAND: Joint Submission to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture   
Association for Legal Intervention & the Global Detention Project
This submission to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in preparation for its recent visit to Poland addresses concerns about deteriorating conditions inside Poland’s detention centres, including reduced personal living space; the treatment of migrants and refugees on Poland’s border with Belarus, including pushbacks and expulsions, arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment of migrants crossing the border; the discriminatory treatment of non-Ukrainians fleeing into Poland from Ukraine, including detention; and the continuing detention of refugee and migrant children in Poland. Read the full submission here
The Committee on Migrant Workers as a Venue for Promoting the Rights of Migrant Detainees
A GDP Interactive Dialogue with CMW Member Pablo Ceriani
In March the GDP organised the second in its series of interactive webinars on international human rights mechanisms and their relevance to advocacy efforts aimed at promoting the human rights of people in migration-related detention. More than 70 people from 50 different civil society organisations from around the world participated in the webinar (held in English and Spanish).More information about the CMW webinar, including a video of the event, is available hereICYMIThe UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as a Venue for Challenging Arbitrary Immigration Detention: A GDP Briefing with Elina Steinerte
UKRAINE: Monitoring Immigration Detainees Trapped in A War 
Shortly into Russia’s war on Ukraine, the GDP began receiving messages from individuals claiming to know people who remained trapped in immigration detention centres inside Ukraine even as the war approached. Working with media outlets like Lighthouse Reports and partners in the international community, we were able to develop a picture of the desperate situation of some four dozen people trapped inside the Volyn Temporary Stay for Foreigners and Stateless Persons even as the nearby town of Zhuravichi was bombed by Russian forces. In our communications with relevant actors and officials, which remained ongoing as of this publication, we have consistently underscored the clear lack of a justification for keeping migrants and refugees in administrative detention in situations of active warfare.
Eastern Europe Welcomes Some Refugees, not Others: Is it Only Racism? 
Christian Science Monitor, 24 March 2022
The GDP’s Rachael Reilly was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor on how the Ukraine refugee crisis has glaringly revealed Europe’s discriminatory treatment of refugees from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East: “You cannot deny the generosity and the scale of the crisis that Poland and other neighboring countries are having to respond to … [but] look at what happened in Syria, look at what’s happened in Afghanistan, look at Iraq. Refugees from all those countries were fleeing similar situations of aggression, conflict, warfare, human rights violations, hostility, and they haven’t received the same reception.” Read the article here


Immigration Detention in Australia: Turning Arbitrary Detention into a Global BrandAustralia’s migration detention system is an extreme global outlier: It detains people far longer than any other country (nearly 700 days–and counting–on average); the costs of detention are astronomical (about half a million dollars per person per year); as the case of Novak Djokovic demonstrated, the country detains everyone–including children–who does not have a visa (though unlike Djokovic most detainees do not benefit from global attention or teams of lawyers); it hides asylum seekers from the legal system by locking them up “offshore”; it places detainees in the hands of private contractors accused of abuses and cutting corners; and it has turned migration detention into a global race to the bottom as other wealthy countries seek to emulate Australia’s arbitrary detention model. In its first major report on Australia since 2008, the Global Detention Project exposes one of the world’s most abusive immigration detention systems. Read the full report
Immigration Detention in Turkey: Trapped at the Crossroad between Asia and EuropeTurkey has one of the world’s largest migration-related detention systems, operating more than two dozen removal centres with a capacity of nearly 16,000 in addition to ad hoc detention sites along its borders, airport transit zones, and police stations. A reluctant gatekeeper for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants seeking to enter Europe, Turkey’s influential role has repeatedly been put on display, including in the wake of the Syrian refugee “crisis” in 2015, which culminated in the adoption of the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal; and, more recently, after the 2021 Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, which spurred an exodus of Afghan refugees trying to reach Turkey. Turkey constructed a 295-kilometre wall and surveillance system along its border with Iran and has engaged in often violent pushbacks, detention, and deportation of Afghan refugees. Read the full report
Immigration Detention in Morocco: Still Waiting for Reforms as Europe Increases Pressure to Block Migrants and Asylum SeekersMorocco has long prided itself for defending the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, a reputation it sought to bolster when it took a leadership role in the negotiations over the Global Compact for Migration, adopted in Marrakech in 2018. However, this reputation has been tarnished as criticism has grown over its treatment of asylum seekers, who face severe obstacles in accessing protection procedures as well as deep-seated xenophobia and anti-Black racism. In the meantime, increasing pressure from Europe to block the movement of migrants and asylum seekers is encouraging the use of enforcement tactics that violate migrants’ fundamental human rights. Read the full report
Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis”Authored by the GDP’s Izabella Majcher, Michael Flynn, and Mariette Grange, Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis” offers a unique comparative assessment of the evolution of immigration detention systems in European Union member states since the onset of the “refugee crisis.” More information is available here


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