Immigration Detention in Hungary: Transit Zone or Twilight Zone?

Hungary’s efforts to block asylum seekers were at the centre of an important May 2020 European Union Court of Justice ruling concerning its “transit zone” detention sites, located along the border with Serbia. For years, Hungary refused to acknowledge that people were “detained” in these facilities, going so far as to refuse the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention entry during its visit to the country in 2018. […]

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Immigration Detention in Spain: A Rapid Response to Covid-19

On 6 May 2020, Spain reported that for the first time in its history, its long-term immigration detention facilities, “Foreign Internment Centres,” were empty. These centres had long been the target of activists, local politicians, and human rights bodies, who argued that they were unnecessary and abusive. The Covid-19 crisis, which shut down deportation flights, provided a final push. But enormous questions remain. […]

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Immigration Detention in Argentina: A Paradigm Shift?

Argentina, like its South American neighbours, has long de-emphasised detention and deportation in its immigration policies. However, in 2015 its posture changed dramatically after a conservative government took office, which pushed through several restrictive policy reforms and announced the opening of the country’s first specialised immigration detention centre. A new administration that took office in […]

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Immigration Detention in Belgium: Covid-19 Puts the Brakes on an Expanding Detention System

Belgium has adopted increasingly hardening immigration and asylum policies, including an expansion of its detention system. But the Covid-19 crisis has spurred the country to temporarily reduce its immigration detention capacity by half, to some 300 beds, while the Immigration Office has temporarily halted the registration of new asylum seekers. In 2017, the government back-peddled on an earlier commitment to stop detaining children when it opened new “family units” inside detention centres. […]

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Immigration Detention in Tunisia: Shrouded in Secrecy

Foreigners in Tunisia, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa, face endemic racism, little or no possibility of seeking asylum because the country has yet to adopt a refugee protection regime, and pushbacks into Libya and Algeria. There is little transparency with respect to detention conditions of migrants and refugees or their treatment in border regions. Although the country had begun implementing measures in March 2020 to safeguard staff and inmates at the country’s prisons in response to the Covid-19 crisis, no such measures appear to have been taken with respect to people detained for immigration reasons. […]

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Immigration Detention in the Netherlands: Prioritising Returns in Europe and the Caribbean

The Netherlands places increasing numbers of foreigners—including asylum seekers, families, and children—in detention. The country’s Caribbean territories—specifically, Aruba and Curaçao—have also ramped up their removal efforts in recent years as thousands of Venezuelans have sought refuge on the islands. […]

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Immigration Detention in the Republic of Korea: Penalising People in Need of Protection

Over the last two decades, South Korea has implemented increasingly restrictive asylum and migrant worker policies. Although the government does not provide adequate data about immigration detention, making it challenging to assess trends in the country, observers have reported that in recent years this crackdown has grown in scale and intensity. Children, victims of trafficking, and other vulnerable groups can be subjected to indefinite detention, often in facilities where detainees have reported instances of abuse; asylum seekers can find themselves stranded for months in privately operated airport “holding areas”; and national and international human rights bodies have repeatedly called for reforms in the country’s immigration detention centres. […]

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Immigration Detention in Austria: Where the Refugee “Crisis” Never Ends

Austria’s domestic politics have long been overshadowed by a divisive and bitter public debate over the treatment of migrants and refugees. This has had an important impact on the country’s detention practices. Despite years of declining detainee numbers prior to the onset of Europe’s short-lived refugee “crisis,” the increase in asylum applications that the country experienced during 2015-2016 became a cause célèbre for resurgent xenophobic political forces, who used the issue to rally support for numerous controversial policies and agendas. These developments have translated into persistent increases in detention numbers long after the “crisis” ended and asylum applications began to plummet to their lowest levels in years. […]

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Immigration Detention in Romania: With a Little Help from the EU

To pave the way for Romania’s entrance into the Schengen area, the EU has helped finance the county’s efforts to boost border controls and restrict how many people it lets in. Nevertheless, Romania’s treatment of refugees and migrants arguably compares favourably to that of its Visegrad neighbours, like Hungary. Observers point to a number of concerns about conditions in Romania’s immigration detention facilities, including their prison-like regimes, lack of mechanisms to identify vulnerable persons, inadequate medical services, and insufficient provision of legal assistance. […]

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Italy: Complicit in Grave Human Rights Abuse?

Immigration Detention in Italy (2019 Report): An important European destination for asylum seekers and migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa, Italy has been an aggressive proponent of draconian migration control practices, spurring accusations that the country has been complicit in grave human rights violations. During the tenure of notorious former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Italy […]

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