Country Detention Reports

Immigration Detention in France: Longer, More Widespread, and Harder to Contest

France has one of Europe’s oldest and more widespread administrative immigration detention regimes, which extends from continental Europe to overseas territories in the Indian Ocean and the Americas. Nearly 47,000 people were placed in detention during 2017, about half of whom were detained in facilities located in the outré-mer. The country has budgeted more than […]

Immigration Detention in Poland: Systematic Family Detention and Lack of Individualised Assessment

Poland has experienced a sharp drop in the numbers of people applying for asylum since 2017. Yet, anti-immigrant rhetoric dominates public discourse, foreigners are viewed as security threats, and pushbacks are common along the border with Belarus. While material conditions in detention centres appear to meet basic standards, Poland rarely considers “alternatives to detention,” systematically […]

Immigration Detention in Egypt: Military Tribunals, Human Rights Abuses, Abysmal Conditions, and EU Partner

Egypt has long been a destination and transit country for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants from across the Middle East and Africa. Its Mediterranean coast has served as an important staging point for people attempting to reach Europe irregularly. Observers have repeatedly expressed concerns about Egypt’s use of police stations and prisons for immigration detention […]

Immigration Detention in Libya: “A Human Rights Crisis”

Libya is notoriously perilous for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, who often suffer a litany of abuses, including at the country’s numerous detention facilities. Conditions at these facilities, many of which are under the control of militias, are deplorable. There are frequent shortages of water and food; over-crowding is endemic; detainees can experience physical mistreatment […]

Immigration Detention in Finland: Limited Use of “Alternatives,” Restrictive Detention Review, Divisive Political Debate

Finland does not detain as many migrants and asylum seekers as do neighbouring Sweden and other nearby European countries. However, the country’s authorities rarely grant “alternatives to detention,” instead deeming detention to be the most efficient and cost-effective method for removing non-citizens from the country. District court detention decisions tend to be very brief, and […]

Immigration Detention in Sweden: Increasing Restrictions and Deportations, Growing Civil Society Resistance 

Sweden used to be lauded for its comparatively humane treatment of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. However, since the onset of the “refugee crisis,” the country has introduced a series of restrictive immigration control measures and the domestic political environment has become increasingly hostile. Even as the numbers of refugee applicants have steadily fallen, the […]

Immigration Detention in Canada: Important Reforms, Ongoing Concerns

Although Canada has experienced increasing immigration pressures, including receiving in 2017 the highest number of asylum claims in its history, the country has not witnessed the same acrimonious public debate over immigration seen elsewhere. It has adopted important reforms, including the introduction of a National Immigration Detention Framework aimed at improving detention conditions and reducing […]

Immigration Detention in Denmark: Where Officials Celebrate the Deprivation of Liberty of “Rejected Asylum Seekers”

Denmark has pursued increasingly restrictive immigration and asylum policies. During the past three years, the country has adopted some 70 immigration-related amendments aimed at intensifying restrictions, dramatically cut back its asylum recognition rate, and called for detaining as many failed refugees as possible. Observers have repeatedly criticised the penitentiary-like conditions of Denmark’s main immigration detention […]

Immigration Detention in Luxembourg: Systematic Deprivation of Liberty

Although Luxembourg has a very small immigration detention system, the number of detainees has risen in recent years. Since opening a dedicated detention facility in 2011, observers have noted a general improvement in material conditions. On the other hand, detention appears to be systematically applied as officials regularly conclude that apprehended migrants are at risk […]

Immigration Detention in Ireland: Will Better Detention Mean More Detention?

Ireland does not emphasize detention in its migration and asylum policies, nor does it face the same migratory pressures as some of its EU partners. Nevertheless, because the country fails to separate its few immigration detainees, who are placed in prisons, from people in criminal procedures, the country has faced significant international criticism. Officials have […]

Immigration Detention in Norway: Fewer Asylum Seekers but More Deportees

While asylum applications are decreasing in Norway, the number of deportations is rising. Since 2012, when amendments to the Immigration Act were introduced extending the list of grounds for detention, detention has increasingly been used in order to make return policies more efficient. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of people placed in detention nearly […]

Immigration Detention in Lebanon: Deprivation of Liberty at the Frontiers of Global Conflict

Although Lebanon does not consider itself a country of asylum, it has the world’s highest per-capita concentration of refugees, most of whom have fled conflict in neighbouring Syria. Refugees are increasingly treated as a security threat and economic burden, and they have found themselves under growing surveillance and restrictions. The country is also home to […]

Immigration Detention in Greece

Greece is a key focus in Europe’s efforts to halt irregular migration flows. However, the country’s immigration detention laws and practices have been repeatedly denounced by observers, who have pointed to numerous abuses, including the systematic use of detention of vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers, the failure to apply alternatives to detention, appalling conditions in […]

Immigration detention in Italy

As the main European destination for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean by boat, Italy confronts considerable migration challenges. It has responded by ramping up its domestic detention system, implementing the controversial “hotspot” approach to process maritime arrivals, boosting interdiction efforts, and adopting new legal measures that restrict avenues for asylum. The […]

Immigration detention in Germany

Germany’s immigration detention system has undergone major changes since a 2014 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union condemning the country’s use of prisons for immigration purposes. Since then, the country’s detention infrastructure has shrunk from more than 20 to seven long-term facilities, even as new laws have broadened the grounds justifying […]

Immigration detention in Portugal

Portugal implements many strict immigration control measures despite facing comparatively minor migratory pressures. It detains asylum seekers lodging applications at ports of entry; the number of non-EU citizens ordered to leave the country has steadily increased; and it allows the detention of families with children in facilities that the country’s ombudsman considers deficient for this […]

Immigration detention in Malta

Malta is the most densely populated country in the European Union and has one of the highest concentrations of refugees in the world. Although at one time it served as a key destination for migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea en route to Europe, increased efforts to interdict boats have led to a […]

Immigration detention in Macedonia

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has been an important transit country along the Balkan migration route, which has made it a critical country to European migration policy and debate. The EU and FRONTEX have pressured the country to halt migration flows. It currently uses one main detention facility, euphemistically labelled the “Reception Centre […]

Immigration detention in Belgium

Belgium has long received scrutiny for its immigration control policies, in particular its controversial use of forced deportation flights. However, the numbers of people placed in detention annually has declined substantially during the past 15 years, even as the detention of asylum seekers at borders has increased. The country has also pioneered the promotion of […]

Immigration detention in Austria

Austria has sharply increased the number of people it places in immigration detention after years of declining detainee populations. While it continues the controversial practice of placing immigration detainees in “Police Detention Centres,” the country opened a new dedicated immigration detention centre in 2014, which is partly operated by the controversial multinational security company G4S. […]

Immigration detention in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean, has worked to limit unauthorized migration to help 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.

Immigration detention in Estonia

Estonia receives among the lowest numbers of asylum seekers in Europe, but it has one of the highest percentages of non-nationals in the EU as well as a large population of stateless persons. While it places fewer people in immigration detention than its Baltic neighbours, in 2016 the country announced construction of a 70 million […]

Immigration detention in Ireland

Although it places comparatively few people in immigration detention, Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe that uses its criminal prison system for migration-related detention. Also, Ireland and the United Kingdom are the only European Union countries that do not apply the Returns Directive, which contains important provisions regulating immigration detention.

Immigration Detention in Latvia

Despite having only a very small number of unauthorized entries, Latvia has described the situation at its borders with Russia and Belarus as “alarming.” Its law provides for an extended period of detention without court order, allows for the detention of children over the age of 14, and lacks provisions ensuring that the detention of […]

Immigration Detention in Lithuania

Lithuania operates one immigration detention centre, the Foreigners Registration Centre, where several hundred people are confined annually. Despite recently expanding the legal grounds for detaining undocumented migrants and asylum seekers, detainee numbers have remained largely stable. The largest proportion of detainees is from Asia. In 2015, of the 353 people placed in immigration detention 203 […]

Immigration Detention in the Netherlands

In contrast to many of its European neighbours, the Netherlands has sharply reduced its immigration detention capacity as a result of decreasing numbers of immigration detainees. Some observers argue that these decreases are in part due to the fact that the government “takes the obligation to consider alternatives more seriously” than it did before the […]

Immigration Detention in Spain

Immigration detention in Spain has declined considerably during the last five years, decreasing by some 50 percent. At the same time, the numbers of “pushbacks” at the borders of Spain’s enclaves in Africa have reportedly increased. The poor treatment of detainees in some detention facilities and the perceived inadequacy of detention as a response to […]

Immigration Detention in Slovenia

To cope with increased numbers of arriving asylum seekers, Slovenia has tightened its immigration controls, erected wire fencing along its borders, and introduced stringent new asylum legislation. The number of people detained for immigration-related reasons rose from 337 in 2014 to 2,338 in 2015.

Immigration Detention in Croatia

The EU’s newest member state, Croatia is a transit country for non-citizens attempting to reach Western Europe. The country has benefited from EU funding aimed at controlling immigration, including for the construction of two detention facilities along its borders with Serbia and Bosnia.

Immigration Detention in Republic of China (Taiwan)

Detention is an important tool of immigration control in Taiwan. However, the country is not a member of the United Nations and thus its detention practices are not subject to international human rights laws. Nevertheless, Taiwan has long aspired to UN status and it has included key provisions from human rights treaties in its legislation. […]

Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom

The UK’s immigration detention system, one of the largest and most heavily scrutinized in Europe, has been the target of numerous lawsuits, investigations, and public demonstrations. While a recent Home Office-commissioned report called for reducing “boldly and without delay” the detention of certain groups of non-citizens, the new Immigration Act 2016 fails to include many […]

Immigration Detention in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has experienced a surge in negative public attitudes towards Muslims and other foreigners. According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there are credible reports indicating that the country systematically abuses migrants’ rights as part of a deterrent strategy. The number of detained migrants rose from a few hundred in 2013 […]

Immigration Detention in Poland

Although Poland has not faced the same refugee challenges impacting neighbouring countries, it has adopted similar responses. It accepts only a small number of asylum seekers, opposes EU relocation quotas, and has boosted its detention efforts. It recently amended its legal framework, including the adoption of alternatives to detention and restrictions on child detention. It […]

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 […]

Immigration detention in Hungary

Hungary has experienced a surge in xenophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric recently. In 2015, the country constructed more than 200 kilometres of fences along its borders with Serbia and Croatia and amended its law to provide prison terms for those who break though these barriers. Immigration detention constitutes a key element in its deterrence efforts. While […]

Immigration Detention in New Zealand

New Zealand has adopted stringent laws providing for immigration detention, including the detention of asylum seekers and children in cases of “mass” boat arrivals. The country has also lauded Australia’s offshore detention practices, saying they could help deter asylum seekers. But New Zealand has never experienced the type of migratory pressures that these policies are […]

Immigration Detention in Angola

Angola has vigorously pursued a policy of expelling undocumented migrants for “national security” reasons, claiming that there are more than half a million people in the country illegally who are part of a “silent invasion.” The country has opened several dedicated immigration facilities, where thousands of non-nationals are detained every year to await removal, often […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.

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.

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Immigration Detention in Libya

Immigration Detention in Austria

Immigration Detention in Egypt

Immigration Detention in Germany

Immigration Detention in Tunisia

Immigration Detention in Lebanon

Immigration Detention in Greece

Immigration Detention in Turkey

Immigration Detention in Hungary

Immigration Detention in Morocco

Immigration Detention in New Zealand

Immigration Detention in Ireland

Immigration Detention in Malta

Immigration Detention in Japan

Immigration Detention in Spain

Immigration Detention in Mexico

Immigration Detention in Poland

Immigration Detention in Ukraine

Immigration Detention in Italy

Immigration Detention in Canada

Immigration Detention in Angola

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

Immigration Detention in Bulgaria

Immigration Detention in the United Kingdom

Immigration Detention in Israel

Immigration Detention in Tunisia

Immigration Detention in New Zealand

Immigration Detention in Belize

Immigration Detention in Spain

Immigration Detention in Poland

Immigration Detention in Norway

Immigration Detention in Libya