Special Reports

Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis”

This book offers a unique comparative assessment of the evolution of immigration detention systems in European Union member states since the onset of the “refugee crisis.” By applying an analytical framework premised on international human rights law in assessing domestic detention regimes, the book reveals the extent to which EU legislation has led to the adoption of laws and practices that may disregard fundamental rights and standards.

Physical Fences and Digital Divides: Final Report of the Global Detention Project Special Investigation into the Uses of Electronic Media in Today’s Migration Journeys

The “refugee crisis” helped spur a “tech turn” in how people travel across borders and how governments and others respond to these movements. Everyone from civil society organisations—including the Global Detention Project—and individual activists to humanitarian technologists, government officials, and international bureaucrats have experimented with social media and other new forms of digital technology to […]

Crossing a Red Line

“Crossing a Red Line” is the final report of the Red Line Project, a collaborative initiative led by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee that was aimed at documenting the shift from “reception” to “detention” in EU border regions and the implications of this shift on asylum seekers. The project also counted on the participation of the Global Detention Project, the Bulgarian Foundation for Access to Rights, the Greek Council for Refugees, and the Italian Council for Refugees.

Global Detention Project Annual Report 2019

The year 2019 marked the final year of the GDP’s first Strategic Plan. In this Annual Report, we discuss in detail how our strategy has shaped our activities and led us to become more engaged with activists, practitioners, policy-makers, scholars, and—critically—detainees and their families.

The Recast of the EU Returns Directive: Human Rights Lost Again?

In the EU response to the so-called refugee crisis, it was the return policy, rather than refugee protection, that received most prominence. The European Commission (EC) argued that promoting the effectiveness of returns would help solve the “crisis,” – and this “effectiveness” related to the number of returns, rather than compliance with fundamental rights. Although […]

Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention

This Global Detention Project Special Report systematically compares conditions and operations at detention centres in several European countries to identify practices that may be used to develop “harm reducing” strategies in detention.

Global Detention Project Annual Report 2017

Throughout 2018, the Global Detention Project’s researchers documented the conditions non-citizens face in detention facilities around the world to ensure that systematic information about the treatment migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers face in detention is made available to advocates and so that governments can be held accountable.

Critiquing Zones of Exception: Actor-Oriented Approaches Explaining the Rise of Immigration Detention

Immigration policy has catapulted to the forefront of public debate around the world as governments resort to increasingly restrictive measures to block migrants and refugees. While severe border policies are by no means new, this surge in migration control raises questions about the forces driving national policies. This chapter in the new book Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment advances an actor-oriented analysis that views detention systems as complex organisations that rely on deeply rooted institutional structures to buttress their existence, multiple sources of financing to grow operations, and support from a broad array of social actors.

The EU Hotspot Approach: Hotspots and Plethora of Freedom-Restricting Measures

This themed blog series organized by GDP Researcher Izabella Majcher for the Oxford University-based Border Criminologies examines the EU hotspot approach from the perspective of the right to liberty and freedom of movement, highlighting the unclear division of roles and responsibilities between EU agencies and host member states, the blurred line between detention and reception, substandard material conditions, a lack of transparency, and differential treatment based on nationality, among a host of other concerns.

Global Detention Project Annual Report 2016

The Global Detention Project completed its second full year as an independent association in 2016. This annual report details the GDP’s key accomplishments and developments during the year.

Briefing on Multi-national Companies that Provide Immigration Detention Services

The UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries plans to include an assessment of human rights challenges posed by the operations of private security companies in detention centres and prisons in its 2017 report to the UN General Assembly. To assist in the Working Group’s preparatory work, the GDP provided a briefing on various […]

GDP Annual Report 2014-2015

In December 2015, the Global Detention Project completed its first fiscal year as an independent association after operating for nearly eight years at the Graduate Institute. This Annual Report details the origins and evolution of the GDP and its efforts to confront the growing use of immigration detention.

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

This Global Detention Project Special Report provides a first-of-its-kind view of the Swiss immigration detention system. 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]