Over the past six weeks, the Trump administration has forcibly taken approximately 2,000 children away from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border. Condemned by the UN as well as by politicians on all sides of the political spectrum, this “zero tolerance” policy has seen children as young as 18 months torn from their families and placed in overcrowded detention facilities, exposing them to unnecessary trauma and inflicting untold mental suffering. In the past week, news reports have highlighted the abysmal conditions in which children are being held, and officials have even announced plans to erect tented facilities for children in the Texas desert, where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F). “What the U.S is doing now, there is no equivalent. There’s nothing like this anywhere.” – GDP Executive Director, Michael Flynn (BBC News, 7 June 2018)
As we prepare to mark World Refugee Day, the U.S government’s latest policy is a stark reminder that for millions of vulnerable individuals around the world, the journey to asylum is often a painful road rather than a liberating one. From Italy and Malta’s recent decision to turn away hundreds of refugees aboard the Aquarius and the U.K’s continued use of indefinite detention, to the regular arrest of refugees in Lebanon during army-led raids of unofficial refugee camps, the horrifying plight of asylum seekers pushed into the hands of Libyan traffickers, and the detention of thousands of Rohingya in overloaded refugee camps by Bangladeshi police, it is starkly clear that asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants are facing ever-larger barriers in their quest for better and safer lives.
As the GDP asks in its recently released Annual Report, “Which country in the world today welcomes the most vulnerable among us? It is not an easy question to answer.”
Please visit us on Twitter tomorrow to find out more about states’ treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and join us in standing up for refugees’ rights.
Immigration Detention in Canada: Important Reforms, Ongoing Concerns
Although Canada has experienced increasing immigration pressures, including receiving in 2017 the highest number of asylum claims in its history, the country has not witnessed the same acrimonious public debate over immigration seen elsewhere. It has adopted important reforms, including the introduction of a National Immigration Detention Framework aimed at improving detention conditions and reducing the use of prisons for immigration reasons. Concerns, however, remain: One third of immigration detainees are still held in prisons, including individuals with mental health conditions; there is no maximum limit to the length of detention; children may be “housed” in detention facilities to prevent the separation of families; Canada is one of only a handful of countries with a mandatory detention policy, which includes detention for up to 12 months with no judicial review; and anti-terrorism provisions in its immigration legislation have been used to detain and deport foreign nationals on secret evidence. Read the full report.
NEWS AND ACTIVITIES
Challenging Migrant Detention: Human Rights, Advocacy and Mental Health
Notions of the unwanted “other,” the “illegal” migrant, and the “bogus” refugee are increasingly prominent in public discourse, lending support to stringent border control policies whereby states are increasingly relying upon the use of detention to control the movement of foreigners. The detrimental impact of these trends on the health and wellbeing of migrants and asylum seekers will be explored at the conference “Challenging Migrant Detention: Human Rights, Advocacy and Mental Health” in Montréal, Canada, this week, which includes presentations from scholars from across the world, including the GDP’s Michael Flynn. More information is available here.
Protecting the Rights of Migrants: International Norms Facing Contemporary Challenges
GDP Researcher Mariette Grange gave a workshop to government representatives, academics, and representatives of international and non-governmental organisations as part of the “Protecting the Rights of Migrants: International Norms Facing Contemporary Challenges” course in Sanremo, Italy. Organised by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL) in partnership with the Organisation Internationale de la Francaphonie, the course (now in its second year) is aimed at helping practitioners to deepen their theoretical knowledge of the international standards protecting migrants and to explore protection measures. More information about the course is available here.