September 2013 Newsletter

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    Global Detention Project

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Global Detention Project Newsletter

September 2013


Countries across the globe appear to be increasingly relying on detention to control their borders and immigrant populations. On the eve of the UN General Assembly’s second High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development , the Global Detention Project (GDP) is issuing a new set of working papers that aim to provide innovative perspectives on the practice, dynamics, and consequences of immigration detention. Issues explored include the influence of the promotion of human rights norms on the evolution of detention, the growing convergence between criminal and immigration law in the European Union, and the potential impact of misleading language on the well-being of detainees and the choice of policies pursued by states. With these working papers, the GDP hopes to emphasise the importance of detention within the framework of the global dialogue on migration and development as well as enrich discussions between scholars, policy-makers, and activists on ways to improve public policy as it relates to the world’s population of people on the move.
The Hidden Costs of Human Rights: The Case of Immigration Detention
By Michael Flynn

Many liberal democracies betray a noticeable discomfort when it comes to public scrutiny of immigration detention, neglecting to release comprehensive statistics about it, cloaking detention practices in misleading names and phrases, and carefully choosing which activities they define as deprivation of liberty. On the other hand, these same countries have laboured to expand their detention activities and to encourage their neighbours to do the same. What explains this simultaneous reticence towards and embrace of immigration detention? This Global Detention Project working paper argues that a largely unrecognized variable influencing the evolution of immigration detention has been the promotion of some key human rights norms, which has helped spur states to adopt new institutions dedicated to this practice while at the same time prompting them to shift the burden of global migration to countries on the periphery of the international system. Read paper.

“Crimmigration” in the European Union through the Lens of Immigration Detention
By Izabella Majcher

The phenomenon of “crimmigration”–or the convergence of criminal and immigration laws–appears to have a harmful impact on migrants, ranging from increasing negative attitudes about non-citizens to more restrictive immigration policies. This Global Detention Project working paper argues that immigration detention regulated by European Union (EU) directives represents a peculiar manifestation of crimmigration. In particular, detention provisions laid down in the Returns Directive and the recently revised Reception Conditions Directive selectively incorporate criminal justice objectives while rejecting protective features that are provided in criminal processes. Thus, while immigration detention sanctioned by EU directives may pursue objectives similar to those of criminal justice–retribution, deterrence, or incapacitation–detainees are not entitled to due process guarantees afforded to their criminal counterparts. This paper argues that in cases where formally administrative immigration detention is punitive in practice, detainees should be granted broader procedural protections, including presumption in favour of non-custodial alternatives to detention, automatic review of detention, personal hearings, and legal and linguistic assistance. Read paper.

Smoke Screens: Is There a Correlation between Migration Euphemisms and the Language of Detention?
By Mariette Grange

Discursive strategies used to describe people moving across borders can have consequences on their well-being, including limiting their access to legal procedures. This Global Detention Project working paper points to an apparent paradox in these strategies: While language used to describe migrants and asylum-seekers is often euphemistic (or dysphemistic), tending to dehumanise them, language used to characterize their treatment in custody appears aimed at shielding detention from scrutiny. The paper suggests that in the field of immigration detention, the role and impact of misleading language on policy and perception appears to be quite significant and merits more attention from scholars and advocates. Read paper.



New publication: In September, Oxford’s Forced Migration Review published a special issue on the topic of immigration detention. The issue includes an article by Michael Flynn, Manager of the Global Detention Project. Flynn’s article, titled “Be Careful What You Wish For,” about the unintended impact of liberal norms on states’ treatment of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, is available

Presentation (11-12 September 2013): Izabella Majcher, Research Assistant at the Global Detention Project, gave a presentation outlining the GDP’s efforts to build a comprehensive online database on immigration detention laws and practices at a regional workshop held in Guatemala City on “Alternativas a la detención migratoria y protección a grupos vulnerables,” which was co-organised by the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and Mexico-based Sin Fronteras.

Presentation (8-12 July 2013): Mariette Grange, the GDP’s Senior Researcher, gave a presentation onGlobal Trends in the Practice of Immigration Detention at the Summer School on Human Rights, Migration and Globalization organized by the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway.

Workshop (1 July 2013): Michael Flynn gave a workshop titled “Immigration Detention: A Global Phenomenon” at the Graduate Institute’s Summer Programme on International Affairs and Multilateral Governance, Geneva, Switzerland.

Conference paper (29-31 May 2013): Michael Flynn presented a paper at the annual conference of the Latin American Studies Association in Washington, D.C. The paper was titled “Detention across Borders: The Global Legacy of U.S. Immigration Interdiction Practices.”

Conference paper (30 May 2013): Izabella Majcher presented a paper, titled “Illegality Regimes in EU Law: The Case of Immigration Detention,” at the conference Illegality Regimes organized by the VU University Amsterdam.

Presentation (25-26 April 2013): Mariette Grange gave a  presentation on “alternatives to detention” at an international seminar on Libertad de circulación – Alternativas al internamiento de inmigrantes en situación irregular jointly organized by Mugak and the University of the Basque Country, Spain, at the Centro Carlos Santamaría Donostia-San Sebastian.