Immigration Detention in Niger: Expanding the EU-Financed Zone of Suffering Through “Penal Humanitarianism”?
Niger has been a principal migration hub for people criss-crossing the Sahel region of Africa for generations. It has also served as an important transit country for migrants and asylum seekers on the Central Mediterranean route through Libya to Europe. More recently, the country has begun receiving third-country nationals who are “returned,” often forcibly, from Algeria and Libya. Its place on the map has made Niger one of the European Union’s most important targets for extending external migration controls under the pretext of protecting migrants and asylum seekers. But there remains very little detailed information concerning the country’s treatment of people while in detention. Observers are also concerned that the EU’s emphasis on financing migration and security programmes in Niger will have long-term negative consequences because they fail to address endemic poverty and under development, and could exacerbate existing social problems.
Migrants’ Rights at a Crossroads.The adoption of the UN Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and the inclusion of migrants rights in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 have underscored the important role of international law in protecting the rights of migrants. But how is the issue of immigration detention addressed in human rights law? On 22 March, GDP researchers Mariette Grange and Izabella Majcher gave a presentation on this issue at a University of Leicester conference titled “Migrants’ Rights at a Crossroads: Seizing the Moment(um) of the UN Global Compact on Migration and the SDGs 2030 to Forge a New Path for the Protection of Migrants’ Rights.” Their presentation, “Immigration Detention as a Challenge to Realisation of the Global Compact’s Objectives and Goals of Agenda 2030,” analysed international legal norms relevant to immigration detention in the context of the non-binding nature of the Global Compact and the SDGs. More information about the event is available here.
Humanitarian Dialogue on Immigration Detention. On 20 March, GDP Executive Director Michael Flynn and Researcher Izabella Majcher were invited to make a presentation about their work at the Annual Meeting of the ICRC-IFRC Global Working Group for National Societies Working in Immigration Detention. Participating in a session entitled “Humanitarian Dialogue and Humanitarian Diplomacy—Objective: Identifying Thinking & Way(s) Forward on How to Influence Practice and Policy,” Majcher and Flynn presented the findings from the GDP’s Norwegian Red Cross-commissioned report “Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention: A Comparative Study of Detention Centres in France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland,” and the impact the report as had in Norway as well as on the direction of the GDP’s work. More information about the event is available here.
Annual Study Visit of the MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (University of Oxford)On 12 March, GDP Senior Researcher Mariette Grange was invited to address a group of students from the University of Oxford’s MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies programme who were visiting Geneva to learn about the work of relevant international organisations and research institutions based here. Discussing the issue of immigration detention around the world, Grange provided an overview of the GDP’s work and introduced the group to the GDP’s database. Information about the Oxford Refugee Studies Centre is available here.