NEWSLETTER: October 2021 Newsletter: Turkey, Lithuania, the CMW and the Right to Liberty

Immigration Detention in Turkey: Trapped at the Crossroad Between Asia and Europe
Turkey has one of the world’s largest migration-related detention systems, operating more than two dozen of removal centres with a capacity of nearly 16,000 in addition to ad hoc detention sites along its borders, airport transit zones, and police stations. A reluctant gatekeeper for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants seeking to enter Europe, Turkey’s influential role has repeatedly been put on display, including in the wake of the Syrian refugee “crisis” in 2015, which culminated in the adoption of the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal; and, more recently, after the 2021 Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, which spurred an exodus of Afghan refugees trying to reach Turkey. Turkey constructed a 295-kilometre wall and surveillance system along its border with Iran and has engaged in often violent pushbacks, detention, and deportation of Afghan refugees. Read report. 

Joint Submission to the UN Committee Against Torture: Lithuania
The GDP and the Lithuania-based Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) submitted information to the UN Committee against Torture as part of its review of Lithuania, raising serious concerns about  Lithuania’s treatment of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers as border crossings from Belarus have risen. The joint submission reports alarming incidents of violence, mistreatment , disappearances, and harassment of asylum seekers and migrants in ad hoc detention camps along the border with Belarus, as well as reports about inadequate living conditions and denial of medical care. Read the full submission here. 
UN Committee on Migrant Workers General Comment No. 5 on Migrants’ Rights to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention
In a groundbreaking development for global standard setting on migrants’ rights to liberty, the Committee on Migrant Workers launched its General Comment No. 5 on the detention of migrants at an event on 7 October. General Comment No. 5 provides a comprehensive overview of the human rights dimensions of immigration detention and meticulously sets out states’ obligations to safeguard migrants’ rights to liberty. The GDP had previously submitted information to the CMW during its drafting of the General Comment. GDP Executive Director, Michael Flynn, and GDP Research Fellow and former immigration detainee, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, both spoke at the launch event. Abdul Aziz spoke  passionately about his own experience in Australian off-shore immigration detention and the need to end this abusive practice. Flynn highlighted the important contribution the General Comment makes at a time when the human rights of migrants everywhere are under attack, not least their right to liberty. Flynn also welcomed the clarity that the General Comment provides on the sometimes contentious issue of “alternatives to detention” and the CMW’s insistence on state responsibility for abuses people suffer abroad because of externalised detention programs. Read more about the launch of the CMW General Comment here and watch the launch event here.
COVID-19 Platform
The GDP highlighted the deteriorating situation for migrants and asylum seekers in Libya in two updates during the month of October. Migrants were targeted in mass raids by armed, masked security personnel during the first week of October, during which they were harassed, beaten, and shot. The raids resulted in the mass detention of migrants in appalling, severely overcrowded conditions, and at least one young migrant was killed during the raids. MSF, which recently resumed medical services in three of the detention centres, called for an end to arbitrary detention and the closure of “dangerous and uninhabitable facilities.” It said that “more than ever before, migrants and refugees are living in danger and are trapped in Libya with very limited options for a way out.” Earlier in October, the UN Independent Fact Finding Mission on Libya concluded that violence and abuse against migrants in Libya’s jails was so extreme that it may amount to “crimes against humanity.”
See also: See also our COVID-19 detention monitoring update on Lithuania.
Afghanistan Situation Report:  Decades of internal conflict and foreign military interventions have turned Afghanistan into one of the world’s leading source countries for migrants and refugees, with several million Afghan nationals living outside the country. The evacuation of U.S. and other international forces in 2021 spurred a new surge in Afghans seeking to flee their country. But instead of offering safe haven to these people in need, many countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East responded by urging restrictions on their movements and erecting barriers aimed at halting flows out of Central Asia.  Read the full report here.
Immigration Detention in Morocco: Still Waiting for Reforms as Europe Increases Pressure to Block Migrants and Asylum Seekers
Morocco has long prided itself for defending the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, a reputation it sought to reprise when it took a leadership role in the negotiations over the Global Compact for Migration, adopted in Marrakech in 2018. However, this reputation has repeatedly been tarnished as criticism has grown over its treatment of asylum seekers, who can face severe obstacles in accessing protection procedures; as deep-seated xenophobia and anti-Black racism becomes evident in raids and mass forced removals targeting sub-Saharan migrants; and as the country’s long-awaited migration and asylum legal reforms continue to languish, nearly a decade after the Kingdom first announced its commitments to undertake them. In the meantime, increasing pressure from Europe to block the movement of migrants and asylum seekers is encouraging the use of enforcement tactics that violate migrants’ fundamental human rights. Read the full report here.
Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis”
Authored by the GDP’s Izabella Majcher, Michael Flynn, and Mariette Grange, Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis” offers a unique comparative assessment of the evolution of immigration detention systems in European Union member states since the onset of the “refugee crisis.” More information is available here.

“UN Quizzed over Role in Prison-like Island Camp for Rohingya Refugees,” The Guardian, 15 October 2021
“Prisons in Paradise: Refugee Detentions in Greece Raiser Alarm,” Al Jazeera, 21 October 2011
“Committee on Migrant Workers Launches General Comment on Migrants’ Right to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention,” Mirage News, 8 October 2021
“How Gardaí and the State have Lessons to Learn About How Migrants are Treated in Ireland,”, 2 October 2021
“Decapitalization of the Immigrant Subject: The Case of Undocumented Mexican Women in Phoenix-Arizona,” Tania Lizeth Bonilla, Migraciones internacionales Vol 12, 20 September 2021
“Incarceration and Generation: Mapping a Conceptual, Theoretical and Empirical Field of Research,” Sílvia Gomes, Maria João Leote de Carvalho, Vera Duarte, Incarceration and Generation, Vol. 1, 9 October 2021
“Generations of Penality: On Prison, Immigration Detention and Their Intersections,” Cristina Fernández-Bessa and José A. Brandariz, Incarceration and Generation, Vol. 1, 9 October 2021
“‘Same Content in New Bottles’ in the Immigration Detention System in Canada: Impacts on Young Adult and Adult Undocumented Migrants,” Ana Ballesteros-Pena, Incarceration and Generation, Vol. 1, 9 October 2021
“Globalization and Employee Turnover: The Case of Bulgaria,” Minna Paunova and Blagoy Blagoev, Global Talent Retention: Understanding Employee Turnover Around the World, 30 September 2021
“What are we afraid of? Exploring risk and immigration detention,” Anna Lindley, Migration Studies, Vol 9, Issue 1, March 2021, pages 90-114