February 2014 Newsletter

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    Global Detention Project

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    News & Events

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Global Detention Project Newsletter

February 2014


New Zealand

Often regarded as exemplary in its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, New Zealand has significantly hardened its immigration rhetoric and laws in recent years, even as migratory pressures in the country have diminished. Following the example of Canada and its neighbour Australia, New Zealand has adopted stringent legal provisions that provide the possibility for indefinite detention, mass—and, many critics argue, arbitrary—arrests, and the deprivation of liberty of minors. In addition, the country’s conservative government has concluded an agreement with Australia that provides for the use of controversial offshore detention facilities to hold unauthorized maritime arrivals, which New Zealand officials claim will help deter migrants and smugglers. On the other hand, the country has never experienced the type of migratory phenomenon its new laws and policies are purportedly aimed at addressing, raising important questions about the real motives behind its toughening posture and drawing parallels with Switzerland, which passed a law banning the construction of minarets even though hardly any existed in the first place. Read profile.


Traditionally a country of emigration, Morocco is also considered an important transit country for sub-Saharan migrants seeking passage to Europe. Since the early 2000s, the European Union has pressured—and provided funding to—Morocco to block migrants transiting the country. A Moroccan commission of enquiry into incidents near the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla observed that while reluctant to act as a policeman for Europe, Morocco has over time become a “cheap and natural detention centre.” Although detention plays a role in Morocco’s treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, in recent years crack downs on foreigners have been characterized by mass rounds and summary deportations, which observers claim are based on racial profiling by police. Read profile.


Hungary is often characterized as an important transit country for migrants attempting to reach Western Europe. However, in its most recent reports, the EU border control agency Frontex does not mention Hungary as being one of the major migrant crossing points into the EU. An important source of international migrants in the country has been Afghanistan, with Afghan nationals fleeing the conflict in their country making up more than 40 percent of asylum seekers in 2012. Yet, at the same time, Hungary has systematically detained people seeking international protection. In fact, the country appears to be one of the only EU countries to set up a wholly separate detention regime for asylum seekers, adopting grounds of detention that are specific to those seeking asylum and establishing a separate detention facility for them. In June 2013, it transposed the EU (Recast) Reception Conditions Directive, even before the Directive had been formally adopted and promulgated. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criticised the country for adopting the Directive in a selective manner, focusing on detention-related provisions while leaving aside provisions on the needs of vulnerable persons. Read profile.



Interview. On 31 January, Michael Flynn was interviewed on Canada’s CKNW radio about challenges to accessing information about detention centres. The interview is available here.

Publication. On 11 February, the website “Crimmigration” published an article by Izabella Majcher titled “Crimmigration in the European Union: The Case of Immigration Detention.” It is available here.

Interview. On 23 February, Australian Public Broadcasting’s Sunday Extra aired an interview with Michael Flynn discussing how Australia’s detention practices stack up to those of other countries.