Global Detention Project Newsletter – 24 February 2010
Belgium Detention Profile
Belgian immigration policies have been marked by a heavy emphasis on security, and its detention practices have been the subject of much debate at both the national and international levels. Bolstered by a passel of rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights, civil society groups, human rights watchdogs, and international bodies have criticized the country for a number of controversial practices, including the detention of children, the use of transit zone detention centres, and providing inadequate information to detainees about their legal rights. Simultaneously, Belgian authorities have engaged in a continuous reworking of both detention practices and the legal framework governing detention.
Mauritania Detention Profile
Mauritania has become a favoured transit point for African migrants attempting to reach Europe. The introduction of stricter border controls in Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the mid-2000s forced migrants to search out new routes, which resulted in the Mauritanian port city of Nouadhibou, located 800 km southeast of Spain’s Canary Islands, becoming a key departure hub. Thousands of irregular migrants enter the country yearly, particularly from Senegal and Mali, to set out on perilous trips to the Canaries. Mauritania has established agreements with Spain on implementing stricter controls, including police checkpoints along its borders and surveillance operations to interdict smuggling vessels. In addition, Mauritania operates one dedicated immigration detention centre in Nouadhibou, nicknamed “Guantanamito” by detainees, which has been sharply criticised for its poor conditions.
Ireland Detention Profile
In the 1990s Ireland, long an emigrant nation, became a net immigration one, spurred in part by its economic boom. The country also experienced rapid growth in the number of asylum seekers during this period, increasing from 362 in 1994 to a peak of 11,634 in 2002. This unprecedented influx of migrants led to changes in Irish immigration and asylum policies. Despite its reputation for leniency towards immigrants, the country’s recent economic downturn has created a more hostile environment for foreign-born workers. Ireland detains several hundred people a year on immigration violations, a mere fraction of the number detained by its neighbour, the United Kingdom. Ireland does not have dedicated immigration detention centres, so migrant detainees are confined in prisons.
GDP NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
1) On 2 March 2010, the GDP and the Programme for the Study of Global Migration will host Stephen Nathan, editor of Prison Privatisation Report International (University of Greenwich), who will give a talk entitled “The Politics of Privatised Immigration Detention.” The presentation will take place at 12:15 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, La Voie-Creuse 16, Room CV 342 (3rd Floor), Geneva, Switzerland.