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 GDP paper is to help encourage discussion of this issue by advancing some preliminary proposals on the development of a methodology that would allow for careful designation of custodial arrangements with a particular focus on the facilities used to accommodate child migrants and asylum seekers. DOWNLOAD PAPER.
The work of post-structuralist political philosopher Giorgio Agamben (1998, 2005) has had a major influence on the study of immigration detention in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, his concepts homo sacer (“bare life”) and “zones of exemption” depict the growth of immigration detention practices as an expression of sovereign power through inclusive exclusion. In other words, states demonstrate their power to confer rights upon their citizens by denying those rights to others. This paper argues that post-structuralist approaches to the study of immigration detention present a number of theoretical and conceptual problems. Post-structuralist analyses focusing on discourses divorced from actors present teleological problems in terms of theory. Additionally, post-structural accounts of detention centres using concepts such as homo sacer and Banoptican tend to conflate human rights and citizenship rights, which does not hold up empirically because many asylum seekers and irregular migrants still have access to legal redress. In contrast to post-structural accounts, the notion of “bureaucratic capitalism” developed by sociologist Gideon Sjoberg (1999) provides an analytical framework that is both critical and non-deterministic in explaining the motives of many actors involved in detention regimes. Specifically, immigration detention can be explained by employing conceptual frameworks used to assess the corporate-state nexus; human agency; rationalization processes like specialization and division of labour; hierarchy, responsibility, and blameability; and secrecy systems. Sjoberg’s meso-level theory provides critical insights into detention regimes in the United States and Europe as well as the role of private- and public-sector interests seeking rents. Moreover, focusing on the organization of detention helps reveal the causes of human rights violations as well as their possible redress.DOWNLOAD PAPER.
entreParentesis: Mariette Grange was invited to participate in this Jesuit-orgnaized initiative aimed at improving cross-border dialogue, which was held in Madrid on 28 May. More information about this initiative is available here.
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: In late June, the WGAD informed the GDP and other stakeholders involved in developing its recently finalised Principles and Guidelines on strengthening the right of habeas corpus for anyone deprived of his or her liberty of the reservations expressed by some countries regarding certain aspects of the document, which they they consider to be too “stringent.” Among the countries that have expressed these concerns are the United States, Australia, Canada, and Germany (their statements regarding the document are attached). The WGAD is seeking ideas and partners to help promote the Principles and Guidelines (which are also attached to this email).