NEWSLETTER: The Detention of Migrant Workers in El Salvador and Morocco


The Detention of Migrant Workers in El Salvador and Morocco

In submissions to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, the GDP examines the implementation of Articles 16, 17, 22, and 23 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers by El Salvador and Morocco, noting concerns regarding the detention and deportation of migrant workers in both countries:

  • Together with the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, the GDP documents the way in which migrants and asylum seekers continue to face arbitrary arrest, forced displacement, detention, and deportation in Morocco, despite claims by the country’s authorities about their “humanitarian approach” to migration and asylum affairs.   
    • Read the Morocco Submission
    • Visit the Morocco Detention Data Page
  • The El Salvador submission highlights the worrying lack of transparency surrounding detention practices, noting also the country’s ad hoc detention of migrants and refugees in border areas during the Covid-19 crisis as well as concerns regarding conditions in quarantine facilities.
    • Read the El Salvador Submission
    • Visit the El Salvador Detention Data Page


New Student Volunteers Join the GDP

As part on-going efforts to strengthen scholarship on immigration detention and expand the range of researchers collaborating on our online database—the Global Immigration Detention Observatory—the GDP recently welcomed several new student volunteers from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences’ Department of Business Law. The students, who are volunteering as part of the department’s International NGO Law and Policy Project (NLPP) under the supervision of Dr. Alexandra Dufresne, have participated in a series of online workshops provided by GDP director Michael Flynn and adviser Mariette Grange discussing the scope and contours of immigration detention and the relevant international human rights legal framework.

The EU Pact on Migration: A Heavy Emphasis on Returns

On 23 September, the EU Commission presented its widely anticipated EU Pact on Migration. Although the pact was presented as an “opportunity to uphold human rights in migration governance,” many observers have warned that the pact will lead to more suffering, not less. Areas of concern include its emphasis on returns and border controls, expedited asylum procedures, and plans for enhanced collaboration with countries like Libya, where thousands are already arbitrarily detained. Attempting to strike a balance between solidarity and responsibility, the pact proposes the concept of “return sponsorship,” whereby states unwilling to accept new arrivals will instead be able to contribute by supporting the return of rejected asylum seekers. Many fear that that this attempt to end state inaction may end up encouraging them to prioritise returns over relocation. The proposed pact will now be negotiated by the European Parliament and EU member states.

Amendments to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007

For over a decade, the GDP has relentlessly pushed states to provide better migration detention data, in particular in the European Union, where Eurostat maintains a wealth of statistics on a range of key immigration enforcement measures—except detention. Until now. In June, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted proposed reforms to the Migration Statistics Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 862/2007) governing the provision of data by EU states to Eurostat on migration and international protection. The amended regulation also requires states to more frequently report statistics on a host of policies related to returns and asylum as well as related administrative and judicial procedures. Importantly, the amended regulation also calls on Eurostat to establish a “pilot study” to “test the feasibility of new data collections or disaggregations,” including with respect to:

  • the number of persons having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such an application as a family member and who: were in detention, disaggregated by duration of stay in detention and by the grounds for detention, or were subject to an administrative or judicial decision or act ordering their detention or an alternative to detention, disaggregated by type of alternative and by the month such decision or act was issued.
  • the number of persons in return procedures subject to an administrative or judicial decision or act ordering their detention, further disaggregated by duration of stay in detention, or an alternative to detention, disaggregated by type of alternative, and by the month such decision or act was issued.

Read: Regulation (EU) 2020/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2020 amending Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection

Bahrain: Steps Taken to Avoid the Detention of Non-Nationals

Responding to the GDP’s Covid-19 Survey, our partners at have reported that Bahrain’s authorities have taken several important steps to protect non-nationals during the pandemic. The country’s Ministry of Interior issued a circular ordering authorities not to arrest and detain migrants due to their irregular status until the end of the year. An additional circular states that non-nationals are not to be detained for minor or administrative offences. If you, too, have information pertaining to the treatment of non-nationals during the pandemic, please consider completing our Covid-19 survey HERE. (You can also sign up to receive our weekly monitoring updates here.)

Deportation Union: Revamped Return Policies and Reckless Forced Removals

In the first of a three-part webinar series organised by Statewatch and the Transnational Institute, former GDP researcher Izabella Majcher joined Tineke Strik MEP and legal anthropologist Jill Alpes to discuss the EU’s Return Directive. During the event, Majcher discussed research she conducted with Mariette Grange and Michael Flynn for the GDP’s recently published volume, Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis.” More information about the book is available here.


En Arabie Saoudite, des milliers de migrants piégés par le Covid [In Saudi Arabia, thousands of migrants trapped by Covid]” L. Masseguin, Libération, September 2020.

“Are ICE Detention Centers Concentration Camps? Evidence Suggests So.” K. O. Berkley, Medium (Dialogue and Discourse), September 2020.

“Performing States of Crisis: Exploring Migration Detention in Israel and Denmark,” I. Amit and A. Lindberg, Patterns of Prejudice, September 2020.

“Calendar of Racism and Resistance – 28 August – 10 September 2020,” Institute of Race Relations, 4 September 2020.

“Migrant Deaths Continue to Rise During the COVID-19 Pandemic as Data Collection Becomes More Challenging,” J. Black, Migration Policy Practice, August 2020.

“Bare Life in an Immigration Jail: Technologies of Surveillance in U.S. Pre-Deportation Detention,” A. Radziwinowiczówna, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, August 2020.

“Rethinking Confinement Through Canada’s Alternatives to Detention Program,” C. Gidaris, Incarceration, September 2020.

“Coping and Confinement on the Border: the Affective Politics of Music Workshops in British Immigration Detention,” J. Morris, Ethnomusicology Forum, September 2020.

“The Effectiveness of Administrative Detention of Migrants in Relation to Return Rates: A Compared Analysis along States of EU South Frontier: Italy, France, Greece and Spain as Cases Study,” L. Falsone, Global Jurist, August 2020.

“Mental Health Consequences of Detaining Children and Families Who Seek Asylum: A Scoping Review,” S. Mares, European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, September 2020.

“A Comparative Analysis of the Femicide of Migrant Domestic Workers in Bahrain and Lebanon,” M. Al-Hindi, Contemporary Challenges: The Global Crime, Jusice, and Security Journal, September 2020.

“Female “Deviance” and Pathways to Criminalization in Different Nations,” S.T. Hadi and M. Chesney-Lind, Criminology and Criminal Justice, July 2020.

“Children Caught in Crises: Pathways of Advocacy For Unaccompanied and Separated Migrant Children,” S. Bond, Global Justice, June 2020.

“A Durable Permeation: Imagination, Motion, and Differentiation at the Border Between Canada and the United States,” V. Konrad, in Permeable Borders: History, Theory, Policy, and Practice in the United States, P. Otto et al (eds.), Berghahn Books, 2020.