January 2014 Newsletter

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    Global Detention Project

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Global Detention Project Newsletter

January 2014



Officials in Malta have argued that unauthorized migration to the country has reached an “emergency scale” and that there is a “national crisis” with respect to administrative detention. When Maltese officials refer to this “crisis,” they argue that Malta represents an exceptional case due to its small size, high population density, and extensive maritime borders. To cope with boat arrivals Malta applies a form of mandatory detention which, although unique among EU countries, has some similarities to the policy pursued by Australia. Once undocumented non-citizens are issued removal orders, they are automatically subject to detention. Authorities claim that immigration detention is a “powerful deterrent” and serves as a form of punishment. As one government minister put it, “The message needs to … be received by everyone that entering Malta illegally will not go unpunished.” View profile.

Despite falling numbers of asylum seekers and far fewer foreign workers than in years past, Ireland has put increasing pressure on irregular third-country nationals to leave the country. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of people issued removal orders annually rose from 1,285 to 2,065. On the other hand, Ireland’s annual detainee population has consistently dropped over the past decade. In 2003-2004, nearly 3,000 people were placed in prison for immigration-related reasons. More recently, in 2010, 459 people were detained; and in 2012, 385. Perhaps because of these falling numbers, Ireland has yet to build a dedicated immigration detention centre and some rights watchdogs, like the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, have ceased pressuring the country to stop using prisons for immigration purposes. View profile.


January 2014: Submission for the European Commission’s Home Affairs Public Consultation “Debate on the future of Home Affairs policies: An open and safe Europe – what next?” Available here.

January 2014: Submission to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in response to the Questionnaire related to the “Draft Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of His or Her Liberty by Arrest or Detention to Bring Proceedings Before Court.” Available here.



Debate: In January 2014, Michelle Brane of the Women’s Refugee Commission and Michael Flynn of the Global Detention Project held an online debate about the impact of advocacy strategies on immigration detention, which was published on the website of the New Internationalist. It is availablehere.


Publications by GDP staff: 

  • On 4 December, “Border Criminologies” based at Oxford’s Centre for Criminology published a perspective piece by Michael Flynn on “alternatives to detention.” It is available here.
  • Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration recently published a journal article by Izabella Majcher on detention provisions under the EU Returns Directive. The article, titled “The European Union Returns Directive: Does It Prevent Arbitrary Detention?” is available here.
  • In its January/February 2014 issue, The New Internationalist published a brief contribution by Michael Flynn addressing some of the challenges facing the “alternatives to detention” campaign.
  • On 4 November, Border Criminologies published a GDP review of its recent working papers titled “Immigration, Human Rights, and Language.” It is available here.

EU policy conference: On 9-10 December 2013, the GDP’s Izabella Majcher and Michael Flynn gave presentations on trends and challenges regarding immigration detention laws and practices at “Migration Policy Conference: Stockholm and Beyond,” organized by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice in the Hague.The GDP’s presentations focused on continuing problems with transparency in the EU with respect to detention practices and information, gaps in procedural guarantees provided immigration detainees in EU law, and the need for EU states to re-assess whether detention is an effective tool for achieving the larger objectives set out in EU migration policy.

Keynote presentation at Council of Europe: On 21 November, Michael Flynn gave the keynote address at the Council of Europe‘s two-day conference on “Immigration Detention in Europe: Establishing Common Concerns and Developing Minimum standards,” which was co-hosted by the UK’s HM Directorate of Prisons and the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. Flynn’s presentation, titled “Immigration Detention in Europe: Transparency, Effectiveness, Awareness,” is available here.

Migreurop workshop: On 6 December, the GDP participated in a workshop in Paris organized by the EU-wide NGO Migreurop. The GDP gave a presentation on challenges to developing reliable data on detention centres.

International Detention Coalition: In late 2013, the GDP gave a series of presentations on working with rights advocates to develop data on detention regimes at regional meetings of the International Detention Coalition in Amman, Jordan (19-21 November); Bangkok, Thailand (7-9 November); and Guatemala City (11-12 September).