The Immigration Detention Monitor

Welcome to the Global Detention Project’s blog tracking the latest developments in migration-related detention practices and policies, urgent appeals, and emerging situations across the globe.

Please write to us at research@globaldetentionproject.org should you wish to submit information or contributions.


Persistent Reports of Severe Human Rights Violations in Malaysia’s Immigration Detention Centres 

Malaysia has been repeatedly criticised for having one of the world’s most abusive and punitive immigration detention systems. Yet the government continues to fail to address the international community’s recommendations to protect vulnerable migrants and refugees in the country, as the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recently reported in a […]

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Undocumented migrants detained after an immigration raid in Kuala Lumpur (Source: Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/03/05/malaysia-abusive-detention-migrants-refugees).

Slovakia: Detention Increases as Country Continues Migrant and Asylum Crackdown

Slovakia has been among the more outspoken opponents of the EU Migration Pact, adopted in April 2024, with the country’s new populist Prime Minister Robert Fico stating that Brussels “cannot order a country that it must accept, in the Slovak case, up to 300 migrants you know nothing about, or pay 20,000 euros for each […]

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Pakistan: UNHCR and IOM Report Massive Spike in Detention Rates

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries, with the majority of refugees coming from Afghanistan. The country has not implemented a national asylum system and it is not a party to the UN Refugee Convention. There have been numerous reports of refugees being arrested during raids, arbitrarily detained, and summarily deported. In 2023, […]

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South Africa: Challenging Abusive Detention Practices in Court 

Refugee rights groups are pursuing legal action against South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs in response to what it claims are unlawful arrests, detentions, and deportations of new asylum applicants. They denounce these practices as a violation of human rights, the country’s Constitution, and international law, including the principle of non-refoulement. A coalition of NGOs […]

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People crossing the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post (Source: Aljazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2024/5/15/anxious-zimbabwean-migrants-smugglers-watch-south-africas-election)

UN Agency Adds Voice to Growing Global Clamour Over Canada’s Immigration Detention Practices

The Canadian government’s plans to use federal prisons for immigration detention has drawn the rebuke of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) as well as the ire of an international coalition of civil society groups, who have launched a petition demanding that Canada abandon the plans.  The battle over prisons Canada is among […]

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Edmonton Institution, a maximum security correctional centre and one of Canada's federal penitentiaries. (Source: CBC News, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/federal-government-plans-on-incarcerating-migrants-in-its-penitentiaries-1.7177094).

Viet Nam: Immigration Detention as Debtors Prison 

There is little information available about Viet Nam’s immigration detention practices though people on online chat rooms and social media platforms have an occasion expressed dismay at the country’s “harsh” treatment of overstayers. There have also been reports about periodic crackdowns on irregular Chinese migrants, who are detained, fined, and then deported back to China, as well as of harassment and […]

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Many inmates of Thu Duc prison worked as labourers, securing reductions in their sentences. But some are still in detention over alleged unpaid debts [Chris Humphrey/Al Jazeera]

An EU-Lebanon Refugee Deal Amidst An Unprecedented Crackdown on Refugees

The EU’s recently signed deal with Lebanon to provide financial assistance for hosting refugees and boosting border security comes as Lebanese authorities pursue an “unprecedented” crackdown targeting Syrian refugees. Human rights groups fear that the deal will keep refugees out of Europe while facilitating their deportation to Syria, in violation of human rights obligations. In […]

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Refugee children in a Syrian refugee camp in the Marj area at Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (source: https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/56891/unhcr-to-cut-health-coverage-for-syrian-refugees-in-lebanon)

United States: Immigration Detention Set to Expand Despite Growing Calls to Reduce Detainee Numbers Amidst Reports of Mistreatment and Terrible Detention Conditions

A number of civil society groups in the United States have recently published highly critical reports alleging abusive and inhuman conditions at privately operated immigration detention centres. These include reports of abuse and mistreatment of vulnerable people, medical neglect, and failure to provide access to legal assistance. Private prison operators are nevertheless planning important extensions […]

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Aurora migrant detention facility, Colorado (Source: https://www.advocate.com/news/trans-migrants-mistreatment-detention)

Lithuania: Reports of Arbitrary Detention, Physical Abuse, and Pushbacks 

Recent reports highlight ongoing abuses of migrants and asylum seekers by Lithuanian border guards, including arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and pushbacks into Belarus.  The Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI), a GDP partner in Lithuania, recently documented three cases involving unlawful restrictions of migrants’ liberty, abuses by Lithuanian authorities, and pushbacks to Belarus. According to their report, […]

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Source: Human Rights Monitoring Institute - https://hrmi.lt/en/litigation-concerning-the-pushback-policy-of-migrants-and-the-restrictions-of-their-liberty-implemented-in-the-republic-of-lithuania/

Egypt: Detaining and Refouling Sudanese Refugees Fleeing Spiralling Conflict in Sudan

There are increasing calls for Egypt to stop its summary detention and deportation of Sudanese who are fleeing the escalating crisis in their country, as well as growing pressure on the European Union to take steps to prevent its aid to the country from being used to violate the rights of refugees. The conflict in […]

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Screenshot from video of Sudanese detainees reportedly taken from inside an Egyptian military warehouse located near the border town of Abu Simbel (March 2024).

Bulgaria: The Alarming Case of Detained Saudi Journalist Abdulrahman al-Khalidi

Bulgaria’s extremely long immigration detention of a Saudi law student and human rights activist reveals the degrading conditions in which migrants and asylum seekers are detained in the country. It also reflects a broader trend in Europe and globally: the de facto use of immigration detention for purposes that may have nothing to do with […]

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Saudi political activist Abdulrahman al-Khalidi (Source: https://www.menarights.org/en/case/abdulrahman-al-bakr-al-khalidi)

Senegal: Blocking the West African Migration Route

The West African migration route leading to Spain’s Canary Islands saw a major spike in traffic in 2023, increasing by 161 percent compared to 2022, according to the European Union border agency, Frontex. As most of these crossings originate in Senegal and involve mainly young migrants, many under the age of 18, the country’s efforts […]

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Migrants on a boat headed to the Canary Islands, (source: https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/55792/canary-islands-un-steps-in-for-senegalese-teen-held-in-adult-prison)

Calls for Closure of Controversial Detention Centre in Trinidad and Tobago 

After a Trinidad and Tobago court recognised “shocking and appalling” treatment of a Venezuelan child at the Chaguaramas Heliport detention facility, some are calling for the controversial facility to be closed. Previously, detainees have protested the conditions they were forced to endure at the facility, and human rights activists in the country have argued that […]

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Chaguaramas Heliport Detention Centre (Source, Google Streetview)

Reports of Inhumane Conditions and Worrying Lack of Transparency at Milan’s CPR

In February, a detainee protest concerning harmful living conditions and health risks in a detention centre in Milan was met with violent repression. This latest event, one of a string of similar incidents in Italy’s network of CPRs (Centro di Permanenza per il Rimpatrio), has raised broader concerns about the disregard for human rights across […]

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A group of migrants in Milan's CPR, Source https://www.fanpage.it/milano/appalti-truccati-al-cpr-di-milano-perquisizioni-in-corso-della-guardia-di-finanza/

Mass Escape from Malaysian Detention Centre Highlights Need for Reforms 

On 1 February, 131 (mainly Rohingya) refugees escaped from an immigration detention centre in the Malaysian state of Perak following reported riots in the facility, called the Bidor Temporary Immigration Depot. This is the second mass escape in two years from a Malaysian detention centre, which observers say underscores the inhumane conditions that immigration detainees […]

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Rohingya refugees, who escaped from a Malaysian Immigration detention centre on Wednesday, are rearrested by police (Source: Al Jazeera - https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/4/20/six-killed-as-hundreds-of-rohingya-flee-malaysia-detention)

Reports of Refoulement in Kyrgyzstan Amidst Fears of Shrinking Asylum Space 

In December, UNHCR expressed “grave concern” at the disappearance of an asylum seeker in Kyrgyzstan and his refoulement to his country of origin. Similar incidents have been reported in recent years, with rights observers also decrying the country’s shrinking asylum space.  According to UNHCR, on 16/17 October an asylum seeker was arrested by security services […]

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A view of Bishkek's Pre-Trial Detention Centre No.1 (Source: AKIPress)

FRANCE: New Immigration Law Ends Detention of Children but Eases Deportation

A controversial new immigration law has come into force in France that prohibits detention of children while at the same time limiting access to social assistance for migrants and facilitating removal procedures.  […]

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Far-right hails 'ideological victory' as France passes hardline immigration bill - Euronews.com

Policy and Practice Updates From the Gulf 

In the past year, detention and deportation operations have been on the rise across the Gulf region. The GDP’s partner in the region, Migrant-Rights.org, has been documenting and reporting on these campaigns. They have detailed how every week “hundreds of migrant workers [are] detained in searches and raids. Most workers are detained for having inaccurate […]

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Al Hidd Detention Centre (Source: Migrant-Rights.org)

Slovenia Extends Border Controls and Announces Migrant “Handling Facilities” at Croatian Border 

Amid a rise in the number of irregular arrivals intercepted at the country’s border, the Slovenian government has introduced increased border controls along its Croatian and Hungarian borders and announced plans to establish a migrant “handling facility” at the Obrežje border crossing.  According to Slovenian police, 60,587 people were intercepted while attempting to enter Slovenia […]

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Russian Legislators Introduce Amendments to Administrative Code

In December Russia introduced important amendments to its Code of Administrative Offences–including limiting the maximum period of detention in immigration detention facilities to 90 days, and permitting detainees the right to apply to a court to verify the legality of their detention.  […]

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The GDP's map of detention centres in Russia (https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/detention-centres/map-view)

As Finland Closes Eastern Border, Authorities Announce Plans for New “Registration Centres”

In response to what authorities have described as “instrumentalised migration” at its eastern frontier, in November Finland took the extraordinary step of closing its entire border with Russia. The government has also permitted the Immigration Service to establish “registration centres” where arrivals can be held for up to seven days.  In November, Finland recorded a […]

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New York State: The Dignity Not Detention Act

A new white paper from students at Cornell’s Brooks School of Public Policy (State Policy Advocacy Clinic) provides a detailed look into immigration detention policies in the state of New York.  […]

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Dominican Republic Deportations Surge as Authorities Announce Opening of New Detention Centre

Since our last update in December 2022, the Dominican Republic has continued to step up its policy of mass deportations of Haitians, violating the rights and dignity of non-nationals despite numerous calls for authorities to moderate their actions. To facilitate these deportations, the General Directorate of Immigration has announced plans to establish a new immigration […]

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The Centro Vacacional de Haina has long been plagued by reports of deplorable conditions (Source: Google Maps)

Chile Continues To Step Up Anti-Migrant Efforts Amidst Growing International Criticism 

On 17 December, Chileans will head to the polls to decide if they approve a new draft of the country’s constitution, to replace that which has been in force since Pinochet’s dictatorship. Amongst the proposed new constitution’s articles, written by a right-wing dominated committee, is one requiring the expulsion of irregular migrants from the country. […]

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Chilean protestors tear down a makeshift Venezuelan migrant camp, January 2022 (source: BBC News, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-60197980)

Rwanda’s Asylum Practices Under Spotlight as UK Supreme Court, UN, and US State Department Highlight Dangers

Two weeks after the UK’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government’s plan to outsource asylum processing to Rwanda is unlawful, the UN Committee against Torture expressed concerns about Denmark’s plans to externalise asylum processing to Kigali.  […]

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Australia’s High Court Rules Indefinite Detention Unlawful 

In a landmark decision, Australia’s High Court has ruled that indefinite immigration detention is unlawful–overturning a previous decision from 2004. The case concerned a stateless Rohingya man who faced the prospect of lifelong detention as no country would resettle him.  […]

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Europe: The Spectre of Detention Looms across the Continent as Immigration Pressures Grow

So far this year, 233,500 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe’s Mediterranean region, compared to 159,410 during the whole of 2022. Several EU states–including the EU’s three largest economies, Germany, France, and Italy–have focused on intensifying detention measures as a tool for responding to these growing challenges, raising concerns about the region’s faltering commitment […]

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Malawi’s Encampment Policy: Forced Relocations and Detentions 

In March, the Malawi government issued a directive ordering all refugees in the country living in urban or rural areas to relocate to the country’s already overcrowded Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Since then, authorities have forcibly relocated thousands to the camp, often detaining them temporarily in prison.  Forced relocation According to the 27 March directive, all […]

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Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi

NGOs Urge UN Human Rights Committee to Assess the Republic of Korea’s Immigration Practices and Policies 

This week, on 19 and 20 October, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) will consider the fifth periodic report of the Republic of Korea. Amongst various concerns, numerous NGOs–including the GDP’s partner, the Association for Public Interest Law–have called on the committee to examine the country’s immigration detention practices and policies. Concerns include the detention […]

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Poland: Detainees Hold Largest Hunger Strike To-Date; Poles Called To Vote on Refugee and Migrant Policies 

Between 5 and 9 September, immigration detainees in Poland’s Przemysl detention centre (Guarded Centre for Aliens) held a hunger strike against “arbitrary detention” and their prolonged detention in the centre. Taking place against a backdrop of growing anti-migrant rhetoric in the run up to the country’s October elections and referendum, this was the largest collective […]

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Afghan Refugees Ordered to Leave Pakistan, or Face Deportation

Amidst a crackdown against undocumented Afghans residing in the country, Pakistan’s authorities have ordered all undocumented Afghans to leave by 1 November or face deportation. In recent weeks, hundreds of refugees have been arrested and detained on the grounds that they do not have adequate paperwork. According to reports, at least four refugees have died […]

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Djibouti’s Crackdown Against Irregular Migrants

As Djibouti’s role as a source and transit point for migrants and asylum seekers attempting to travel to the Arabian Peninsula increases, so do the perils facing migrants both in Djibouti–where they face arrest and detention–and after their departure from the country, during dangerous journeys across the Gulf of Aden.  The “Eastern Route” According to […]

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Migrants and Asylum Seekers Face Violent Attacks, Then Detention, At Saudi Border. 

In a new report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) details the horrific killing of hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers at the Saudi-Yemen border. According to the report, Saudi border guards have used explosive weapons and shot at groups of people–largely Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers–killing hundreds, amongst them women and children. Those who survive have […]

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The Threat of Detention for Myanmar Refugees in India 

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh have launched a crackdown on Rohingya refugees, leading to the arrest and detention of dozens of people apprehended during raids at camps. The arrests are part of a wider, nationwide policy targeting refugees from Myanmar. With no legal limits on detention, refugees can be held indefinitely. Recently, when a group who […]

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Estonia’s Detainee Mobile Phone Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

In June, Estonia’s Supreme Court ruled against a ban on immigration detainees using their mobile phones. Challenging restrictions on detainees’ ability to access the internet, the court also held that access to the internet is a human right which must be upheld by detention centre management. […]

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Filipino Migrants Deported from Kuwait Amidst Tensions Over Worker Rights

Amidst tensions between the Philippines and Kuwait concerning migrant worker rights, some 700 Filipino workers were deported from Kuwait between April and July this year.  Abused by Employers  An estimated 268,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait–many of whom are employed as domestic workers. Due to the country’s Kafala system, workers are legally tied to […]

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Imprisonment Rather Than Protection: Pylos Survivors Detained in Greece 

On 14 June, hundreds of refugees and migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwreck in nearly a decade. As many as 750 individuals are believed to have been in the boat when it capsized, but just 104 were found alive. Taken ashore, survivors were met not with protection and sanctuary, but detention in […]

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Romania’s Treatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers Challenged by UN Committee against Torture 

On 19 and 20 July, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) considered the third periodic report of Romania. In its concluding observations following its review, CAT noted several concerns regarding the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in the country, including the immigration detention of vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children and victims of torture; […]

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UN Experts Call on Ethiopia to Halt Mass Deportations and Detentions of Eritreans 

Ethiopian authorities must halt the mass deportation of Eritrean refugees, UN experts say. The country, which has hosted thousands of Eritreans for years, has also been accused of arbitrarily detaining large numbers of Eritreans, often on the ground that they lack documentation–despite the fact that the country’s Refugee and Returnee Service (RSS) stopped registering newly […]

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Trapped Between Borders: Tunisia’s Alarming Treatment of Sub-Saharan Migrants 

Tunisia has come under renewed criticism from rights groups after authorities rounded up sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers and forcefully relocated them to a buffer zone between the Tunisian and Libyan border. Videos shared online show men, women, and children–some with injuries–stranded close to the sea, reportedly without any food or water.  Surging Discrimination  According […]

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GUEST OPINION: Canada – Rejecting and Promoting Migrant Detention, All in a Day’s Work

By Anne-Rachelle Boulanger On 16 June 2023, two decisions were taken in Canada with important implications for immigration detention. First, the province of Ontario confirmed that it would no longer allow the federal government to detain migrants in its provincial prisons, in line with recent decisions in other provinces. But just a few hours after […]

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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Secrecy and Confusion Surrounding New Detention Centre for “Fake Asylum Seekers”

In 2022, the EU announced plans to fund a new detention unit within the grounds of a Temporary Reception Centre near Bosnia’s north-western border with Croatia. In recent months, however, significant confusion and controversy has emerged surrounding the centre. […]

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Cambodia & Southeast Asia: Cyber Scam Trafficking Victims Facing Detention and Prosecution

In a recent report to the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights, a group of NGOs highlight a growing pattern of human rights violations across Southeast Asia involving trafficking rackets that are fuelled by scam online employment schemes. The report echoes recent information that the Global Detention Project has received from sources in Cambodia about […]

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Chile: Human Rights Monitoring Bodies Denounce Proposed Legal Reforms Increasing Detention Measures for Undocumented Migrants and Asylum Seekers

In a communication to Chile, a group of UN experts have condemned proposed reforms to the country’s migration and asylum legislation. If approved, the reforms would provide criminal penalties for irregular entry and stay, including prison sentences and fines, and increase administrative detention measures for people awaiting deportation. The effort also reflects policy proposals in […]

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Russia: Immigration Detainees Amongst Foreign Migrants Targeted for Military Recruitment

In an effort to reach recruitment targets for its war in Ukraine, Russia has been attempting to coerce or force foreign migrants to fight. Authorities and private military companies have attempted to enlist foreigners in migration offices, workplaces, prisons, worker dormitories, and mosques. According to several reports, immigration detainees have also been targeted for enlistment.  […]

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Lebanon Steps Up Forceful Removals of Syrian Refugees

Amidst festering economic crisis and political stalemate, Lebanese authorities have stepped up their efforts to remove Syrian refugees from the country. In recent weeks, hundreds have been arrested, detained, and summarily deported by Lebanon’s army intelligence unit. Since early April, the Lebanese army has conducted multiple raids across the country, arresting hundreds of Syrians who […]

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A Missed Opportunity in Japan

On 7 March, Japan’s cabinet passed a bill amending the country’s immigration and asylum legislation. The bill, which has been slated by rights groups, reinforces the country’s ability to indefinitely detain migrants and asylum seekers. It is now due to be voted on by the country’s parliament. With regards to detention, the amendment bill to […]

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Switzerland: Detainee’s Death Reignites Calls to End Immigration Detention

In the morning of Saturday 8 April, a male immigration detainee was found unconscious in his cell in Geneva’s Favra detention facility. His death has prompted renewed calls for authorities to close the controversial centre.  According to a press release from the Department of Security, Population and Health (DSPS), the man (reportedly a Tunisian awaiting […]

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ITALY: Human Rights Court Rules Against “Hotspot” Detention 

In an important ruling, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that Italy breached Articles 3, 4, and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in its treatment of four Tunisian claimants who were detained and deported in October 2017.  In October 2017, four Tunisians attempted to travel to Italy from […]

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GUEST OPINION: In Canada – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back …

By Anne-Rachelle Boulanger In a move that could augur fundamental changes in Canada’s immigration detention system, four provinces—British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Manitoba—have announced that they will end the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) use of their provincial jails for detaining migrants by June 2023. In doing so, these provinces may help roll back […]

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Deaths in Ciudad Juárez Detention Centre Reveal the Brutality of Immigration Control in Mexico

The horrific deaths of more than 40 migrants and asylum seekers in a fire while padlocked inside a cell in Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez migrant detention centre (“Estacion Migratoria”) have spurred calls to close the country’s notorious detention centres and led to the opening of a homicide investigation into detention centre staff. In the aftermath of […]

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Republic of Korea: Indefinite Detention Without Due Process Guarantees Ruled Unconstitutional

In an important ruling, the Republic of Korea’s Constitutional Court has found that the country’s policy of indefinitely detaining migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers without due process guarantees is unconstitutional. […]

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Mandatory Detention for all Irregular Arrivals, and Funding a Detention Centre in France? The Latest from the UK

Over the past week, the UK has proposed a number of controversial and extraordinary measures aimed at stopping irregular migration, including proposing new legislation that imposes mandatory detention for anyone crossing the Channel by boat as well as a joint initiative with France that includes helping pay for a new detention centre there. On 7 […]

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Open Letter Calling for Canada to Stop the Use of Provincial Jails for Immigration Detention

The GDP has joined 39 Canadian and international organisations in an open letter calling on Canadian authorities to cease detaining migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in provincial jails. As the GDP has previously documented, Canada has regularly attracted criticism for its persistent use of jails for immigration detention – and in particular, for its placement […]

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STATEMENT: The Impact of the Türkiye/Syria Earthquake on Immigration Detention Centres and Detainees (International Refugee Rights Association & Global Detention Project)

The catastrophic earthquake that hit southeastern Türkiye and neigbouring Syria on 6 February 2023, as well as the dozens of aftershocks that have hit the region since, have had a devastating impact on millions of people in the region and caused the death of more than 40,000 people. The Turkish government has declared a state […]

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Asylum Seeker’s Death Highlights Brutal Impact of Thailand’s Detention Policies

The recent death of a Uyghur asylum seeker detained in the Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre (Suan Phlu) has prompted renewed calls for Thailand to release a group of 49 ethnic Uyghurs who have now been detained in the country for nine years.  Aziz Abdullah, 49, died on 11 February after he collapsed in a cell […]

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Italy and the EU “Complicit” in Crimes Against Non-Nationals in Libya

The brutal treatment of refugees and migrants in Libya has been widely condemned and reported. Intercepted by the country’s coastguard and returned to Libyan “disembarkation zones,” non-nationals are placed in immigration detention facilities where conditions are inhuman. They face indefinite detention with frequent water and food shortages; overcrowding; physical mistreatment and torture; forced labour and […]

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B. Trew, “‘Left to Rot’: Inside Libya’s Squalid Detention Centres Where Migrants and Refugees Suffer a ‘Slow Death,’”The Independent, 4 September 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/libya-detention-centres-migrant-refugees-deaths-zintan-tripoli-a9703161.html

Rohingya Refugees Detained in Sri Lanka 

In December, Sri Lankan authorities were praised for their quick and successful rescue of 104 Rohingya refugees, stranded at sea when their boat encountered mechanical difficulties. The GDP is concerned to learn, however, that soon after they were brought to dry land, the refugees were placed in two immigration detention facilities in Colombo–one of which […]

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Sri Lankan Navy, “Navy Comes to the Aid of 104 Distressed Myanmar Nationals in Sri Lanka’s Waters,” 18 December 2022, https://news.navy.lk/oparation-news/2022/12/18/202212181700/

Denmark Pauses Plans to Outsource Asylum Processing to Rwanda 

On 25 January, Denmark announced that it was pausing its controversial plan to outsource asylum processing to Rwanda. However, the country has expressed its intention to collaborate with other EU states in establishing a processing facility outside Europe. First proposed by the Social Democrat party in the run-up to the country’s 2019 general election, the […]

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On 9 September 2022, Denmark and Rwanda released a joint statement confirming the “Rwanda Plan,” Image Source - Twitter: https://twitter.com/RwandaMFA/status/1568210713578979330/photo/1

Reforming Norway’s Trandum Detention Centre 

Important reforms are due to be implemented at Norway’s Trandum Detention Centre, raising hopes for improved treatment of people in immigration procedures in the country, according to the 2022 Annual Report of Trandum’s independent oversight board. Among the proposed reforms are several harm-reducing proposals identified by the Global Detention Project in our 2018 report commissioned […]

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Trandum Supervisory Board, “Tilsynsrådet for Politiets utlendingsinternat, Trandum Årsmelding 2022,” 2022, https://eafo.no/Tilsynsradet2022.pdf

Migrants in Zambia at Grave Risk of Abuse

On December 11, 27 people were found dead in an agricultural area north of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. The dead, dumped one on top of the other in the street, are presumed to be Ethiopian migrants. According to a police spokesman who spoke to the BBC, the migrants are believed to have “suffocated to death while […]

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DW, “Zambia: Dozens of Suspected Ethiopian Migrants Found Dead,” 12 December 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/zambia-dozens-of-suspected-ethiopian-migrants-found-dead/a-64063723

The Continued Detention of Non-Nationals in Ukraine’s Volyn Detention Centre

The GDP has received alarming reports detailing the detention of 44 non-nationals in Ukraine’s Volyn detention centre (Volyn PTPI). Conditions in the facility are reported to be dire, raising serious concerns for detainees’ safety and wellbeing. (The GDP previously reported about the situation at Volyn, see our 29 April 2022 blog entry below.) Located in […]

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Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention Admist War: The Case of Ukraine’s Volyn Detention Centre,” 29 April 2022, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/immigration-detention-amidst-war-the-case-of-ukraines-volyn-detention-centre

10 December 2022 – Qatar

On 7 December, a Filipino worker reportedly died while carrying out repairs at a training facility in Qatar used by the Saudi Arabian football team, marking the latest in a series of work-related incidents connected to the Qatar World Cup. According to the Guardian, approximately 6,500 migrant workers from five countries have died since Qatar […]

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Middle East Monitor, “Qatar Deports Migrant Workers Protesting Unpaid Salaries Constructing World Cup Stadiums,” 24 August 2022,  https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20220824-qatar-deports-migrant-workers-protesting-unpaid-salaries-constructing-world-cup-stadiums/

08 December 2022 – China

Recent protests in China over strict zero-covid policies made headlines across the globe because of their rarity and intensity. However, missed in much of the coverage were public protests of foreign migrant workers, who have been particularly impacted by the zero-covid policy, including being subject to lengthy quarantine and detention measures. According to one report, […]

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Shihuan Chen, “The Workers in Limbo During Guangzhou’s Covid Outbreak,” The World of Chinese, 19 November 2022, https://www.theworldofchinese.com/2022/11/the-workers-in-limbo-during-guangzhous-covid-outbreak/

02 December 2022 – Dominican Republic

In the past three months, Dominican Republic authorities have significantly stepped up migration controls and forced removals of Haitians, including amongst them pregnant women arrested in hospitals, prompting international condemnation. The country, which has historically pursued a policy of mass deportations, removed more than 60,204 people to Haiti between 1 August and the end of […]

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El Día

17 November 2022 – Egypt

While Egypt has been courting world leaders in Sharm el Sheikh as the host for COP27, it has continued to arbitrarily and indefinitely detain thousands of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Many are also being forcibly deported to countries where they may face persecution or torture. Egypt has a track record of detaining non-nationals for […]

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Dozens of the South Sudanese nationals repatriated from Egypt arrived in Juba on Friday. | Photo: Michael Daniel/Eye Radio.

10 November 2022 – Czech Republic

Sharp increases in the numbers of unauthorised border crossings from Slovakia into neighboring Czechia have led to tensions between the two countries. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger planned to meet with his Czech counterpart in Prague on 10 November to discuss Czechia’s introduction of border controls, which Slovakia claims may undermine Schengen freedom of movement […]

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InfoMigrants, “Border checks by Czech Republic and Austria, over 100 migrants intercepted,” 29 September 2022, http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/43683/border-checks-by-czech-republic-and-austria-over-100-migrants-intercepted

01 November 2022 – United Kingdom

A short-term holding facility for newly arrived migrants and asylum seekers has been denounced for “catastrophic overcrowding” and “grotesque treatment,” with the country’s Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration reporting that he was left “speechless” by the conditions he observed inside. Thousands are currently detained in Manston Processing Centre where rights groups argue a “humanitarian […]

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SOAS Detainee Support, Twitter Thread, 31 October 2022, https://twitter.com/sdetsup/status/1587064170759049216

19 October 2022 – Israel

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel has welcomed large numbers of Ukrainian and Russian Jews within the scope of its Law of Return. Its treatment of these groups, however, stands in stark contrast to that experienced by other refugees and asylum seekers–many of whom face detention and deportation. Most recently, the country’s Interior Ministry announced […]

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E. Moussa, “From Refugees to Settlers: How the Ukraine War is Helping Israel’s Demographic Project,” The New Arab, 28 March 2022, https://english.alaraby.co.uk/analysis/how-ukraine-war-helping-israels-demographic-project

13 October 2022 – Latvia

Latvia has violently pushed back and arbitrarily detained scores of refugees and migrants, including children, in secretive tented camps along its border with Belarus, says a recently published Amnesty International report. The rights group contends that authorities have used undue force including torture to stop “illegal crossings” since declaring a state of emergency in mid-2021. […]

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Amnesty International, “Latvia: Return Home or Never Leave the Woods,” 13 October 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur52/5913/2022/en/

12 October 2022 – Australia

On 7 October, Australia’s Commonwealth Ombudsman (CO) and Human Rights Commissioner (HRC) published a joint statement expressing concern regarding the country’s use of hotels for detaining refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers–in some cases for years on end. Drawing on observations gathered by the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman in its role as Australia’s National Preventive […]

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Commonwealth Ombudsman and Australian Human Rights Commission, “Joint Statement on the Use of Hotels as Alternative Places of Detention,” 7 October 2022, https://www.ombudsman.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/115280/Joint-Statement-on-hotel-APODs.pdf

05 October 2022 – United Kingdom

The number of victims of trafficking detained in the UK has likely tripled in the past five years, says a new report published by the Helen Bamber Foundation in early October. Despite broad recognition of the vulnerabilities faced by trafficking and slavery victims, the report says, the UK government is treating survivors as criminals rather […]

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Youtube, “LIVE: Suella Braverman Reveals New Immigration Law at Conservative Party Conference,” 4 October 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7t14Gvfw6E

21 September 2022 – Japan

Japan’s treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants within its immigration detention estate is again under intense scrutiny after a court ruled that authorities had failed to protect the health of a detainee. The detainee – a 43-year-old Cameroonian asylum seeker – died in detention in 2014. Suffering from diabetes and other health issues, the […]

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E. Lang, “Japan ruling on foreign detainee death reignites human rights concerns,” Nikkei Asia, 17 September 2022, https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Japan-immigration/Japan-ruling-on-foreign-detainee-death-reignites-human-rights-concerns

20 September 2022 – Turkey

On 20 September, the GDP’s Türkiye-based partner – the International Refugee Rights Association (IRRA) – delivered a virtual presentation to the UN Committee on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW) during its 35th session. This oral submission, which followed a joint written submission to the committee from both the […]

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International Refugee Rights Association, “Oral Submission: GDP Partner, IRRA, Provides Input on Issues Related to Immigration Detention in Türkiye at the UN Committee on Migrant Workers’ 35th Session,” Global Detention Project, 20 September 2019, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/oral-submission-gdp-partner-irra-provides-input-on-issues-related-to-immigration-detention-in-turkiye-at-the-un-committee-on-migrant-workers-35th-session

15 September 2022 – Tajikistan

In recent weeks, Tajik authorities have been arbitrarily detaining Afghan refugees and asylum seekers and forcibly returning them across the border into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. UNHCR reports that since 2021 there have been numerous cases of Afghan refugees being detained and deported in the country. Most recently, on 23 August 2022, it documented the arrest of […]

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Radio Ozodi, “

31 August 2022 – United States

On 30 August, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) released Concluding observations concerning its periodic review of US implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Committee highlighted the discriminatory application of immigration enforcement measures, stating that mandatory detention measures have a “disparate impact on asylum seekers of […]

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C. Shoichet and C. Hickey,

28 August 2022 – Canada

In a historic move, British Columbia’s Public Safety minister announced in July that the province will end the use of provincial jails for confining immigration detainees. The announcement, which followed a review of the province’s contract with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to facilitate the use of provincial correctional facilities for detaining migrants, is […]

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Human Rights Watch, “Canada: British Columbia to End Immigration Detention in Jails,” 21 July 2022, https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/07/21/canada-british-columbia-end-immigration-detention-jails

23 August 2022 – Botswana

Following its recent visit to Botswana, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) expressed serious concerns regarding the country’s punitive approach towards refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. Having visited two detention sites, the Working Group urged Botswanan authorities to revise its policies to ensure that immigration detention is used as an exception, for the […]

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Global Detention Project and Lawyers for Human Rights, “Botswana: Submission to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” 27 June 2022, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/botswana-submission-to-the-un-working-group-on-arbitrary-detention

26 July 2022 – Bahamas

On 24 July 2022, 17 Haitian migrants, including a child, were found dead while 25 others were rescued at sea after their ship sank off the coast of the Bahamas. It is believed that the speedboat capsized in rough seas while heading towards Miami with up to 60 people on board. Two people were arrested […]

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Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized perch on the overturned vessel (Royal Bahamas Defence Force/Reuters,

17 July 2022 – Armenia

Since there start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Armenia has experienced an increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum in the country, most of whom are from Ukraine.The country’s migration service reported that from January to March 2022, they had received applications for asylum from 13 countries, including Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Lebanon, and […]

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Migration Service Building in Armenia (Migration Service Armenia,

10 July 2022 – Spain

The deaths of 37 migrants and asylum seekers in late June along the border fence separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco have spurred numerous protests across cities in both countries. Thousands of protestors gathered in Barcelona, Malaga, Vigo, San Sebastian, and Melilla to denounce migration policies as well as the militarisation of Spain’s […]

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Riot police officers cordon off the area after migrants arrive on Spanish soil (Javier Bernardo, AP Photo,

06 July 2022 – Morocco

On 24 June 2022, between 1,500-2,000 migrants who had been camping in the mountains surrounding Melilla, descended to the city’s border, hoping to get through the border fences and enter Spanish territory. Many of the migrants were crushed between the fence and Moroccan border guards, who used tear gas and batons on the migrants. Moroccan […]

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Migrants Attempting to Cross the Border with Melilla City (AP,

05 July 2022 – United Arab Emirates

In June, the Global Detention Project (GDP) and Migrant-Rights.org issued a joint submission to the Committee against Torture concerning issues related to immigration detention in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The submission highlights prolonged detention periods, poor detention conditions, as well as instances of deportation without recourse to legal remedies. The GDP and Migrant-Rights.org encouraged […]

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Two Women Handcuffed Before Being Moved to a Separate Cell in al-Wathba Prison (Migrant-Rights.org,

01 July 2022 – Botswana

In June 2022, the Global Detention Project (GDP) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) issued a joint-submission to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in preparation for its mission to Botswana from 4-15 July 2022 concerning issues related to immigration detention in Botswana. The submission highlights the gaps in the country’s national refugee legislation, lack […]

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Nursery School at the Dukwi Refugee Camp (A. Bouvier,

30 June 2022 – United States

In late June, 53 migrants died after being abandoned in a trailer in south-west San Antonio, Texas, marking the highest ever death toll from a human trafficking event near the US-Mexico border. More than half of the victims were originally from Mexico while 14 were from Honduras, seven from Guatemala, and two from El Salvador. […]

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Police and First Responders Standing Next to the Trailer (Eric Gay,

20 June 2022 – France

In early June, France’s independent detention monitoring agency, the Contrôleur Général des lieux de Privation de Liberté (CGPL), released a report on its work, which heavily criticised operations at the country’s immigration detention centres (centres de rétention administrative or CRA), including highlighting critical problems with respect to COVID-19 measures. The CGPL report found that the […]

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Protestor Holding a Sign Outside a CRA, (Quentin Vernault & Hans Lucas (AFP),

30 May 2022 – Papua New Guinea

As of 23 May 2022, Papua New Guinea had recorded 44,403 COVID-19 cases and 651 deaths. The country’s vaccination rate is very low compared to other countries, with around 2.75 percent of its population having been vaccinated as of 20 April 2022. There appears to be very little data on efforts to assist migrants or […]

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Bomana Immigration Centre Sign Outside the Centre, (Loop PNG, Taylor, J.

23 May 2022 – Philippines

The Philippines took measures early in the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in detention centres, though measures appear to have targeted prisons rather than immigration centres. In April 2020, authorities announced that some prisoners would be released to alleviate overcrowding and avoid the spread of COVID-19 (see the 18 May 2020 Philippines update). […]

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Bicutan Immigration Detention Centre (Warden Facility) Seen From Outside (Victoria Derbyshire,

03 May 2022 – Malaysia

On 20 April 2022, 528 Rohingya refugees–including 97 women, 294 men, and 137 children–escaped from the Relau detention centre in Sungai Bakap. According to a new local news agency, immediately before the escape there had been a “riot” at the detention centre. Most of the detainees were quickly re-detained, though seven–including three children–died while trying […]

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Group of Refugees Detained on the Side of the Road by Malaysian Police Authorities (New Straits Times,

29 April 2022 – Ukraine

Immigration Detention amidst War: The Case of Ukraine’s Volyn Detention Centre A Global Detention Project Special Report In early March, shortly into Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Global Detention Project (GDP) began receiving email messages and videos from individuals claiming to know people who remained trapped in an immigration detention centre inside Ukraine, even as […]

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Volyn PTPI (in Zhuravychi) (© Ukraine Ombudsperson via Right2Protect, https://r2p.org.ua/shho-take-ptpi/)

27 April 2022 – Denmark

Denmark has entered talks with Rwanda to establish a deal similar to the controversial one Rwanda made with the United Kingdom in mid-April concerning the transfer of asylum seekers to the country. Denmark’s immigration minister said that the deal would “ensure a more dignified approach than the criminal network of human traffickers that characterises migration […]

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Police Officers Walk the Danish-German Border (Claus Fisker/Scanpix Denmark,

22 April 2022 – Rwanda

Despite having a much-criticised track record concerning its treatment of refugees, Rwanda has signed deals with both the United Kingdom and Denmark that involve receiving deported asylum seekers and irregular migrants from both the countries for processing and potential permanent relocation. In mid-April, Rwanda and the UK finalised an “economic development partnership” whose centrepiece is […]

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Outside of the Gashora Transit Centre (Sally Hayden,

16 April 2022 – United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on 14 April that “from today, anyone entering the UK illegally as well as those who have arrived illegally since January 1 may now be relocated to Rwanda. Rwanda will have the capacity to resettle tens of thousands of people in the years ahead.” The UK claims that the […]

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UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Vincent Biruta sign an agreement in Kigali on 14 April 2022 (Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP,

12 April 2022 – Colombia

Colombia hosts the largest number of Venezuelans outside Venezuela. According to the World Food Programme, there are some 1.8 million Venezuelans residing in Colombia and another 500,000 are expected to arrive in the coming months. By 2020, according to UNHCR, Colombia had 957 refugees, 19,933 asylum seekers, 8,252,788 internally displaced persons, and 1,729,537 Venezuelans “displaced […]

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A Group of Refugees and Migrants Walks Towards the Village of Canaan in south Panama After Crossing the Darien Gap (Nicolo Filippo Rosso, UNHCR,

31 March 2022 – Spain

Spain’s detention and removal operations have begun to return to normal operations after major disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had spurred the country to temporarily close all its detention centres shortly after onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Despite this, COVID continues to wreak havoc in detention centres even as the country […]

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Entrance of the Zapadores de València (M. Rodriguez,

18 February 2022 – Libya

The UN reported in January that there were more than 12,000 people being detained in 27 prisons and detention facilities across Libya, often in “inhumane conditions in facilities controlled by armed groups or ‘secret facilities.’” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that many of these detainees were being arbitrarily detained after the country undertook security operations […]

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09 February 2022 – Trinidad and Tobago

On 5 February 2022, the Trinidad and Tobago coast guard opened fire on a boat carrying some 40 people fleeing Venezuela, wounding a woman and killing her nine-month-old baby. The country’s coast guard stated its personnel had opened fire in “self-defence” to prevent being rammed by the boat. Human rights activists as well as the […]

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Trindad and Tobago Coastguard Searching a Vessel During a Patrol in 2011 (Andrea De Silva, Reuters,

30 January 2022 – Poland

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as of January 2022 there were 1,675 people in detention centres across the country (with 972 persons in detention centres for families and the rest in those for men). The Red Cross reported that they had distributed hygiene kits, including personal protective equipment, […]

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Wall Being Constructed on the Border Near the Polish Village of Tołcze (Wojtek Radwanski, AFP, Getty Images,

25 January 2022 – Yemen

On 21 January, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrike in Yemen struck a detention centre in the Sa’ad province under the control of rebel Houthi forces, killing at least 82 people and injuring 266 others. Médecins Sans Frontières reported that the al-Gumhourriyeh hospital in Sa’da had taken in around 200 wounded but that there were “many […]

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Image of the Destroyed Detention Centre in Sa'da Taken on 22 January 2022 (Ansarullah Media via AFP,

24 January 2022 – Argentina

In December 2020, Argentina launched a national COVID-19 vaccination campaign that includes all refugees and migrants irrespective of migration status. However, the country has struggled to acquire sufficient vaccines. According to UNHCR, there were 3,965 refugees, 9,176 asylum seekers, and 171,659 displaced Venezuelans in the country in 2020 and as of mid-2021, there were 4,007 […]

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Riot Inside the Melchor Romero Prison in October 2020 Demanding the Reopening of Visits Suspended Due to COVID-19 (Mauricio Nievas,

20 January 2022 – Rwanda

The United Kingdom is reportedly considering sending asylum seekers to Rwanda as part of an offshore resettlement and processing scheme that would be allowed under the UK government’s proposed new Nationality and Borders Bill. Ghana was also named as a possible destination, although Ghana’s foreign minister quickly disavowed such a possibility, saying that the country […]

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A Refugee Receiving his COVID-19 Vaccination at the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism centre in Rwanda, (Plaisir Muzogeye,

07 January 2022 – Kosovo

The Republic of Kosovo, situated in the middle of the Western Balkan migratory route, has become a key transit stop for migrants and refugees seeking passage to Western Europe. According to the European Commission (EC), in 2019 a total of 2,027 people were intercepted entering Kosovo irregularly, representing a 300 percent increase from 2018. This […]

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Gjilan Prison in Kosovo Seen From Outside, (BBC,

16 December 2021 – Maldives

The Maldives relies heavily on a migrant labour force, many of whom are undocumented. Estimates vary widely, from 145,000 to over 230,000 migrant workers present in the country. According to an April 2020 UN report on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the Maldives, the country has the largest proportion of migrant workers in South […]

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Security personnel patrol a migrant worker accommodation block under quarantine in Malé, Maldives on 9 May 2020, (HRW,

10 December 2021 – Belarus

The humanitarian crisis that unfolded–and continues to unfold–on Belarus’s borders with the European Union (EU) in late 2021 sparked widespread scrutiny of that country’s treatment of migrants and asylum seekers (see the 12 November 2021 update on Belarus on this platform). However, the EU has long seen Belarus as an important partner in its efforts […]

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Inside the Bruzgi Logistics Centre, (Ruptly,

06 December 2021 – Georgia

Georgia operates a dedicated immigration detention centre in Tbilisi called the Temporary Accommodation Centre. The facility opened in 2014 following negotiations for a visa-free regime with the European Union. An “Action Plan” developed as part of these negotiations provided that Georgia must have “adequate infrastructure (including detention centres)… to ensure… effective expulsion of illegally staying […]

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Tbilsi Temporary Accommodation Centre (Georgia Ministry of Internal Affairs, https://police.ge/en/ministry/structure-and-offices/migratsia)

03 December 2021 – Thailand

As of 30 November 2021, Thailand had registered more than two million cases of COVID-19 and more than 20,000 related deaths. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that in September 2021, there were a total of 28,810 cases among migrants from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Myanmar (CLM) in the country. The number […]

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Doctors Putting Protective Equipment Before Entering Sadao Immigration Detention Centre in April 2020 (National Health Security Office,

26 November 2021 – Tunisia

In late September, Tunisian human rights organisations shared footage of Tunisian officials apparently transporting a group of migrants to the border with Libya and abandoning them in the desert. The group, who had initially been intercepted at sea, included approximately one hundred men, women and children, including at least three pregnant women. One of the […]

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Screengrab from Footage Shared by Tunisian Human Rights Organisations in September 2021 Showing a Group of People, including Young Children, Being Taken by Bus to the Libyan Border (France 24 Observers Team,

24 November 2021 – Algeria

As increasing numbers of Algerians seek to flee their country and make the hazardous passage across the Mediterranean to Spain, concerns are growing about the plight of migrants and refugees located in Algeria’s land borders, particularly those shared with Morocco and Niger, which have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and political tensions across […]

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Migrants Walking in the Sahara Desert (Sylla Ibrahim Sory,

19 November 2021 – Dominican Republic

There has been a sharp uptick in anti-migrant policies and practices in the Dominican Republic in recent months, which have been fuelled in part by COVID-related restrictions and growing public backlash aimed at Haitians. Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history of political and racial tensions, often related to migration pressures. The Committee […]

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A Pregnant Haitian National (El Nacional,

16 November 2021 – Bulgaria

In early November, Bulgarian authorities sent 350 additional military personnel to its border with Turkey because of concerns over increasing migration and refugee pressures. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry reported that during January-September 2021, more than 6,500 people were detained after entering the country irregularly. This was a threefold increase compared to the same period in […]

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Water Cannon Truck Seen at the Kaptain Andreevo Border Crossing Point Between Bulgaria and Turkey in 2020, (Hristo Rusev, AP Photo,

12 November 2021 – Belarus

The escalating crisis on the Belarus-Polish border has spurred a growing number of countries to accuse Belarus of weaponizing migrant and refugee movements, using them as pawns to destabilise the European Union. At the same time, there is growing international outrage over Poland’s response to the situation–as well as that of other countries that border […]

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A group of refugees between Polish (foreground) and Belarusian guards at a border camp near Bialystok, Poland ©AFP/Getty. The Financial Times,

11 November 2021 – Mexico

Mexico’s Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) reported that by the end of September 2021, a total of 108,195 asylum applications had been submitted since the start of the year, the highest figure reported by Mexican authorities. Andrés Ramirez, the general coordinator for COMAR highlighted that this figure is already 53.8 percent higher than the previous […]

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Migrants Walking as they Take Part in Caravan Heading to Mexico City on 1 November 2021 (Daniel Becceril,

11 November 2021 – Poland

The escalating crisis on the Belarus-Polish border has spurred a growing number of countries to accuse Belarus of weaponizing migrant and refugee movements, using them as pawns to destabilise the European Union. At the same time, there is growing international outrage over Poland’s response to the situation–as well as that of other countries that border […]

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A family from Syria on the border between Belarus and Poland, November 2021. Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Getty Images.

02 November 2021 – Belgium

The Belgian NGO Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen reported that during 19-22 October 2021, between 60-150 asylum seekers were being denied access to the asylum registration procedure per day, and in consequence did not have access to reception. As reported on 11 August 2020 on this platform, many asylum seekers were sleeping rough after being released from detention. […]

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Strike Action Outside

01 November 2021 – United Kingdom

In late October, reports emerged of far right groups targeting hotels where Afghan refugees were being accommodated. Britain First and other far right organisations say they are concerned at the cost of resettlement of Afghan refugees. According to the Guardian, Britain First has made several unsolicited visits to hotels housing refugees, trying to approach refugees […]

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Britain First Protest in the UK (Dan Kitwood, Getty Images,

21 October 2021 – Australia

On 18 October 2021, refugees and asylum seekers detained at Melbourne’s Park Hotel held a protest against their detention at the hotel during a COVID-19 outbreak. The detained decried their shared sleeping quarters, cramped eating and recreation spaces, and the fact that many of them are medically vulnerable. Three positive cases had been confirmed and […]

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Asylum Seekers and Refugees Protesting Their Detention at Melbourne's Park Hotel on 18 October 2021, (The Guardian,

12 October 2021 – Libya

There have been numerous recent reports of mass raids targeting migrants and asylum seekers across Libya, resulting in thousands of people being detained in western Libya during the first week of October. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 5,152 migrants were detained in the raids, which were described by Libyan authorities as part […]

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Migrants Sitting on the Street After Being Rounded Up by Security Forces (Ayman Al-Sahili, Reuters,

09 October 2021 – Lithuania

In July 2021, Lithuania accused Belarus of using vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers as political pawns in its ongoing spat with the EU by pushing them across the border into Lithuania and other neighbouring countries. The EU had previously imposed sanctions on Belarus in June over an “escalation of serious human rights violations and the […]

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Vulnerable Migrants Being Moved to Rukla in central Lithuania, (BNS,

05 October 2021 – Libya

The UN’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission to Libya has found that over the past five years, numerous official agencies and non-state actors have committed such extreme levels of violence and human rights abuses that there are reasonable grounds for concluding that war crimes have been committed as well as crimes against humanity. The mission, which based […]

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Migrants Waiting at a Detention Centre in Zawiyah on 18 April 2017 (Mahmud Turkia, AFP,

21 September 2021 – Greece

On 18 September 2021, Greece opened the first of five new facilities to confine asylum seekers and migrants on the Island of Samos, close to the border with Turkey. Similar facilities are planned on the islands of Leros, Lesbos, Kos, and Chios. Fully funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund of the European Union, […]

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Barbed Wire Around the New Refugee Holding Camp in Samos, (Petra Molnar Twitter,

17 September 2021 – Australia

Previously one of the countries in the world least affected by COVID-19, Australia has been struggling to contain outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant across the country over recent months. The States of New South Wales, Victoria and Canberra have all experienced extended periods of lockdown over the past weeks. Immigration detention centres have […]

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Asylum Seekers Protest Inside the Mantra Hotel in Preston, Melbourne, Australia on 16 May 2020 (Michael Dodge/AAP/PA Images,

15 September 2021 – Egypt

On 10 September, reports from human rights groups and independent journalists began circulating about Egypt’s efforts to remove two asylum seekers who had been detained for several years but who had purportedly been cleared for deporation back to Eritrea–in violation of Egypt’s international treaty obligations–where they would likely face torture and possibly execution. According to […]

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“A woman measuring the body temperature of a man after having entered through the gate into al-Qanater prison on 27 December, 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]” Middle East Monitor, “Egypt denies allegations of covid outbreak in prisons,”  6 January  2021, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210106-egypt-denies-allegations-of-covid-outbreak-in-prisons/

10 September 2021 – Poland

Poland has experienced important reductions in the number of arriving asylum seekers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: in 2020, there were 2,803 asylum applications, compared with 4,096 in 2019. According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, as of 1 January 2021, there were 1,319 persons holding valid residence cards for refugees, […]

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Polish Border Guards Detain People Attempting to Cross the Border Between Belarus and Poland on 9 August 2021 (Main Command of the Polish Border Patrol, Reuters,

08 September 2021 – Afghanistan

The plight of Afghan migrants and asylum seekers in deportation procedures across the globe has received renewed attention since U.S. and other international military forces completed their evacuations from the country in August 2021, effectively ceding control of the country to the Taliban. In recognition of the vulnerabilities these people would face back in Afghanistan, […]

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30 August 2021 – Italy

The Italian statistics bureau (Instituto Nazionale di Statistica) reported in July that the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a more than 30 percent decrease of migration entries in 2020 in comparison to the annual averages from the previous five years. On the other hand, by April 2021, Italy experienced more than 5,300 migrant and refugee […]

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A Group of Migrants on a Boat Being Assisted with Anti-Covid Procedures During a Landing in Roccella Jonica in Calabria on 6 July 2021 (ANSA,

20 August 2021 – Croatia

More than a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Croatia had still not imposed a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and nor any released immigration as of mid/2021. Nonetheless there was a significant reduction in the number of people detained at the Jezevo Reception Centre in 2020, dropping to 163 from 535 […]

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Jezevo Reception Centre Seen From Outside, (Source: RTL,

13 August 2021 – Morocco

Migrant workers and asylum seekers in Morocco have faced a number of increasing hardships since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including as a result of their lost access to work during lockdowns. Large numbers of migrants, particularly those who are undocumented, also lack any form of assistance or support in the country. In April […]

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Migrants Sitting Inside a Classroom in Laâyoune, (DR, Infomigrants,

09 August 2021 – Thailand

In March 2021, a number of immigrants became infected while detained by Thailand’s Immigration Bureau, including 77 migrant workers held at detention centres in Bangkok’s Bang Khen and Lak Si districts. Most of the detainees were Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian nationals. The Bangkok Post reported that based on data from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation […]

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Overcrowded Cell in Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre in January 2020, (J. Lovelock,

04 August 2021 – Ethiopia

In 2020, the GDP highlighted several reports documenting the dire detention conditions and appalling ill-treatment that thousands of Ethiopian migrants had faced in Saudi Arabia (see, for example, 6 October 2020 Saudi Arabia update). Following international pressure–including from the European Parliament, as well as groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) who urged Saudi Arabia […]

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Z. Zelalem and W. Brown, “First Migrants Released from Saudi Detention Centres Arrive Home After Telegraph Investigation,” The Telegraph, 27 January 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/first-migrants-released-saudi-detention-centres-arrive-home/

22 July 2021 – United Kingdom

A surge in COVID-19 cases notwithstanding, UK authorities are continuing to arrange deportation flights. On 21 July, a flight to Zimbabwe departed with an estimated 14 persons on board. The first mass-deportation to Zimbabwe in years, media reports state that the flight marked the start of a planned “summer season” of deportations organised by the […]

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D. Taylor, “Legal Bids Mean UK Deportation Flight to Zimbabwe Takes Off Just One-Third Full,” The Guardian, 22 July 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jul/22/legal-bids-mean-uk-deportation-flight-to-zimbabwe-takes-off-just-one-third-full

14 July 2021 – Malta

As of 1 July 2021, all asylum seekers and other non-EU residents in Malta became eligible for receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Previously, only people who could provide a valid residence permit were eligible, according to the European Commission: “From 1 July only an identity document and provision of personal details (which are kept strictly confidential) […]

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Detainees Sitting on Bunkbeds in the Overcrowded Safi Barracks, (Times Malta, “Watch: Migrants in Covert Video Beg to be Sent Back Home: Detainees Speak of Terrible Conditions at Safi Barracks,” 6 September 2020 https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/migrants-in-covert-video-beg-to-be-sent-back-home.816459)

06 July 2021 – Australia

As COVID-19 cases rise again in areas of Australia – including New South Wales – prompting fresh lockdowns, a new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has highlighted the serious risks that COVID-19 poses to people in the country’s immigration detention network. Although no immigration detainees have, to-date, tested positive in the country (although […]

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Australian Human Rights Commission, “Management of COVID-19 Risks in Immigration Detention,” 16 June 2021, https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/asylum-seekers-and-refugees/publications/management-covid-19-risks-immigration-detention

02 July 2021 – South Africa

In March 2020, shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa announced plans to construct a 40-kilometre fence between South Africa and Zimbabwe, which was intended to “ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country. However, observers have pointed out that COVID-19 cases have been far higher in South Africa […]

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Lawyers for Human Rights, “Strandfontein Homeless Committee Takes on City of Cape Town,” 19 May 2020,
https://www.lhr.org.za/lhr-news/strandfontein-homeless-committee-takes-on-city-of-cape-town

28 June 2021 – Turkey

A fire broke out at Turkey’s Izmir Harmandali Removal Centre on 23 June 2021 because of an electrical problem at the facility, according to information provided to the Global Detention Project by a non-governmental actor in Turkey. The fire started on the fifth floor of the centre where refugees are held. Firefighters evacuated the floor, […]

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Firefighters On a Crane on the Top Floor of Harmandali Removal Centre, (SonDakika.com, “1 Asylum Seeker Lost His Life in the Fire at the Harmandali Removal Centre,” 23 June 2021, https://www.sondakika.com/haber/haber-son-dakika-harmandali-geri-gonderme-merkezi-nde-cikan-14220937/)

25 June 2021 – Benin

Benin, which as of 25 June 2021 had recorded more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases and 104 deaths, launched a national vaccination campaign in March 2021 with support from the COVAX Facility. However, it is unclear if migrants, refugees, or other non-citizens are included in the vaccination campaign or whether the country has taken any specific […]

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Volunteer Doctor Testing a New Prisoner for COVID-19, (UNDP, “Protéger les Droits des Détenus au Bénin,” 27 April 2021, https://tinyurl.com/4rfdjdv8)

16 June 2021 – Malaysia

Since the onset of the pandemic, Malaysian authorities have argued that crack-downs on undocumented migrants and other non-nationals are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. A recent example is the 24 May-28 June 2021 nationwide lockdown–referred to in Malaysia as a Movement Control Order (MCO)–during which Home Ministry officials have carried out wide-scale raids […]

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J. Choong, “Malaysian Medical Group Condemns Govt Raid, Treatment of Migrant Workers in Cyberjaya in Fight Against Covid-19,” 9 June 2021, https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2021/06/09/malaysian-medical-group-condemns-govt-raid-treatment-of-migrant-workers-in/1980864

14 June 2021 – Lithuania

According to recent news reports, Lithuanian authorities are considering expanding the capacity of the Pabrade Detention Centre (the “Foreigners Reception Centre) as a response to an increase in irregular migration from Belarus. Previously, the Global Detention Project (GDP) reported on this platform that the government announced in March 2020 a series of COVID-related measures that […]

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LRT English, “Lithuania Mulls Plans to Build Refugee Camp,” 10 June 2021, https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1428986/lithuania-mulls-plans-to-build-refugee-camp

09 June 2021 – Spain

Shortly after the onset of the first wave of COVID-19 in early 2020, Spain began emptying its immigration detention centres – Centros de Internamiento de Extranjeros (CIEs) – and by 6 May 2020, authorities had temporarily closed them all (see 15 May 2020 Spain update on this platform). This development was welcomed by human rights […]

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S. Fernández, “Luz Verde al Nuevo CIE de Algeciras por 21 millones de Euros,” ABCandalucía, 11 November 2020, https://sevilla.abc.es/andalucia/cadiz/sevi-verde-nuevo-algeciras-21-millones-euros-202011110733_noticia.html?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

07 June 2021 – Denmark

MPs in Denmark passed, by a vote of 70-20, legislation that will allow authorities to relocate asylum seekers to centres in third countries outside the European Union while their applications are processed. “If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you know that you will be sent back to a country outside Europe, and therefore we […]

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The Guardian, “Denmark Passes Law to Relocate Asylum Seekers Outside Europe,” 3 June 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/03/denmark-passes-law-to-let-it-relocate-asylum-seekers-outside-europe

31 May 2021 – Monaco

The Principality of Monaco, located on the French Riviera, is the second-smallest independent state in the world and has a population of approximately 38,000 people. The country introduced several measures in March 2020 to combat the spread of the virus, including imposing a lockdown and curfew. As of 31 May 2021, the country had recorded […]

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Corridor in Monaco's Prison, (Monaco Hebdo, N. Gehin,

28 May 2021 – Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands, made up of six major islands and located east of Papua New Guinea, has a population of approximately 670,000 people. A state of emergency was announced on 27 March 2020 and all flights into the country were suspended. As of 28 May 2021, the country had recorded 20 COVID-19 cases and no […]

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Solomon Islands Red Cross Society Handing Over Items Donated by ICRC to the Correctional Services of Solomon Islands on 13 May 2020, (Solomon Islands Red Cross Society, Facebook Post, 13 May 2020, https://www.facebook.com/solomonislandsredcrosssociety/posts/862995254179285)

21 May 2021 – Japan

Japan’s immigration detention system has recently come under renewed scrutiny. In particular, the 6 March death of a 33 year old Sri Lankan woman–Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali–who died in the Nagoya Regional Immigration Bureau Detention House following months of health complaints, sparked a wave of criticism and drew international attention. Sandamali had been detained since […]

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J. Ryall, “Japan Drops Plans to Fast-Track Refugee Deportations After Sri Lankan’s Death in Detention,” This Week in Asia, 18 May 2021, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/people/article/3133948/japan-drops-plans-fast-track-refugee-deportations-after-sri

18 May 2021 – Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis (the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis) is a small archipelago nation made up of two islands located in the western Caribbean (West Indies). With a population of approximately 52,000, the country is the smallest in the Western Hemisphere. On 31 March 2020, following the confirmation of its first two COVID-19 […]

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The St. Kitts and Nevis Observer, “HMP Has Strict Measures to Avoid COVID-19 Outbreak,” 16 May 2021, https://www.thestkittsnevisobserver.com/hmp-has-strict-measures-to-avoid-covid-19-outbreak/

12 May 2021 – United States

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a hard-hitting report on the mistreatment of detainees at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centres since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the details of more than 40 lawsuits filed by the ACLU on behalf of detainees, the report, titled “The Survivors: Stories of […]

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A still from surveillance footage included in a Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report from March about pandemic-era violations of detention standards at the La Palma immigration detention center in Arizona. The people being pepper sprayed had been peacefully protesting to demand better protection from COVID-19: N. Lanard,

11 May 2021 – Switzerland

In early May 2021, the Swiss immigration authority (Secrétariat d’Etat aux Migrations or SEM) launched an investigation into allegations of violence at federal asylum centres in Switzerland. The investigation followed the release of press reports about the use of excessive force by security officers when dealing with some asylum seekers. According to SEM, appropriate procedures […]

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Statistics on Detainees per Category of Detention in Switzerland from 2017 to 2021, (Office Fédéral de la Statistique,

10 May 2021 – France

On 26 April 2021, the National Association for Assistance at Borders for Non-Citizens (Association Nationale d’Assistance aux Frontières pour les Étrangers or ANAFE) announced that it was temporarily stopping its operations at the Zone d’Attente pour Personnes en Instance (ZAPI) of Roissy airport, a transit zone where non-citizens without authorisation to enter France are held […]

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Outside View of the Zone d'Attente pour les Personnes Maintenues en Instance (ZAPI), (C. Bouanchaud,

07 May 2021 – Chile

In late April 2021, several civil society organisations denounced the alleged mistreatment of migrants who had been detained by police in the towns of Arica and Iquique. The Jesuit Migrant Service (Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes or SJM) filed legal appeals claiming that there had been “irregularities” in their treatment, including: improper body searches; lack of […]

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Cuartel de la Policia de Investigaciones de Iquique, (Google Maps, accessed on 7 May 2021, https://tinyurl.com/xwjs7neb)
(Cuartel de la Policía de Investigaciones de Iquique

04 May 2021 – India

As a second wave of COVID-19 has swept across India, infection and death rates have skyrocketed across the country. On 1 May, some 392,488 new cases were reported–the largest one-day increase on record for any country–as well as 3,689 deaths, although observers suggest that real figures may be significantly higher. Despite COVID rates surging since […]

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Rohingya Refugees Along with their Luggage outside a Mosque in Jammu, Kashmir (J. Singh, EPA,

28 April 2021 – Cape Verde

The Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean with a population of approximately 550,000 people. Following the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in the country on 20 March 2020, a state of emergency was declared and a series of measures were implemented including the suspension of all incoming […]

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Military Personnel Carry Ballot Boxes and Voting Equipment to a Polling Station in Praia on 17 April 2021, (AFP, TRT World,

23 April 2021 – Canada

[From the GDP’s April 2021 Canada Report] As previously reported on this platform, calls for releasing people in prisons and other Canadian detention settings began soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-March, immigration detainees submitted an open letter to Canada’s Public Safety Minister demanding their release—pointing to the close quarters where they […]

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J. Kestler-D’Amours, “Immigration Detainees Are on a Hunger Strike Over Coronavirus Fears,” Vice, 26 March 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/939v7v/laval-quebec-immigration-detainees-are-on-a-hunger-strike-over-coronavirus-fears

22 April 2021 – United Kingdom

Cross-party parliamentarians have urged UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to cease the use of former military barracks for confining asylum seekers. In a letter to the Home Secretary, members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Immigration Detention wrote: “We do not believe such sites provide the safe, stable accommodation that people seeking asylum […]

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The Guardian, “MPs and Peers Urge Priti Patel to Shut Napier Barracks Asylum Site,” 17 April 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/17/mps-peers-urge-priti-patel-shut-napier-barracks-asylum-site

15 April 2021 – Burundi

Since 2015, when deadly clashes were witnessed surrounding Burundi’s presidential election, large numbers of Burundians have fled the country. Today, some 150,000 are estimated to be living in neighbouring Tanzania. Burundian authorities have repeatedly spoken of the need for refugees to return from exile, and in recent years reports have emerged highlighting instances in which […]

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Human Rights Watch, “Burundi: Free Forcibly Returned Refugees,” 8 March 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/03/08/burundi-free-forcibly-returned-refugees

14 April 2021 – Tanzania

In a statement released on 13 April, UN experts–including members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Torture–called on the Tanzanian and Burundian governments to respect the rights of Burundian refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania. Tanzania currently hosts an estimated 150,000 Burundian refugees, the majority of whom fled the […]

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Foreign Policy, “Kicking Refugees Out Makes Everyone Less Safe,” 18 February 2021, https://bit.ly/3siYV7u

13 April 2021 – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Carribean with a population of around 110,000 people. Following confirmation of COVID-19 cases in March 2020, the country implemented international travel restrictions including requiring arriving passengers from high-risk countries to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival and quarantine at a government-approved facility. […]

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Sanitation Supplies Donated by CARICOM IMPACS  to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prison Service, (Searchlight,

11 April 2021 – Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is a Caribbean archipelago with a population of approximately 100,000 that relies heavily on tourism. After its initial COVID-19 cases were detected in March 2020, the government declared a two-week state of emergency, established a nightly curfew (8PM to 6AM), and shut all non-essential services and businesses. In June 2020, the country […]

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Prison Officer Protesting in Antigua and Barbuda, (Dominican News Online,

10 April 2021 – San Marino

The microstate San Marino, located in a mountainous region close to Italy’s Adriatic coast and with a population of some 35,000, only slowly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the International Organisation for Migration’s COVID-19 Travel Restriction Monitoring, San Marino did not implement travel restrictions until late 2020 and early 2021. As of 19 […]

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Guaita Tower View, (TNT Magazine,

09 April 2021 – Namibia

Namibia, located in southwestern Africa and with a population of approximately 2.5 million, had recorded 44,374 COVID-19 cases and 528 related deaths as of 1 April 2021. The country appeared to avoid severe outbreaks of infection during the early months of the pandemic. However, the number of cases has continued to surge since mid-2020. At […]

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Osire Refugee Camp Entrance (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation,

07 April 2021 – Mali

The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa with a population of more than 19 million people. Following the confirmation of the two first COVID-19 cases in the country in March 2020, the country was placed under a state of emergency and a curfew was imposed. On 18 March 2020, the government […]

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M. Konaté, “Dans la Prison Centrale Surpeuplée de Bamako, La Menace Inquiétante du COVID-19,” Carnetdusud, 8 May 2020, https://carnetdusud.wordpress.com/2020/05/08/dans-la-prison-centrale-surpeuplee-de-bamako-la-menace-inquietante-du-covid-19/

30 March 2021 – Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, which has a population of approximately 14 million, had recorded 36,822 cases of COVID-19 and 1,520 related deaths as of 29 March 2021. Although there have been reports indicating the use of immigration detention measures for many years in Zimbabwe, in particular for migrants en route to South Africa, the Global Detention Project has […]

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Pindula News, “110 Inmates at Mutimurefu Prison Contract Coronavirus,” 27 January 2021, https://news.pindula.co.zw/2021/01/27/110-inmates-at-mutimurefu-prison-contract-coronavirus/

29 March 2021 – Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean located between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii, had recorded only four COVID-19 cases as of 17 March 2021. The country has also grappled with another infectious disease, dengue fever, having experienced three outbreaks since 2019. As of March 2021, two deaths and 3,884 cases of dengue-like […]

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A quarantine centre in Majuro. Photo: Giff Johnson (RNZ,

24 March 2021 – Comoros

Comoros is a small country comprising a set of islands off the southeast coast of Africa, located between Madagascar to the east and Tanzania to the West. It also shares maritime borders with Mozambique, Seychelles, and the French overseas territory Mayotte. One of the smallest countries in the world, with an estimated population of less […]

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Dormitories inside Moroni prison © Faïza Soulé Youssouf (Mayotte la 1ere, “L'actualité régionale 16 Février,” 16 February 2021, https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/mayotte/l-actualite-regionale-16-fevrier-935446.html)

22 March 2021 – Suriname

Suriname, with an estimated population of approximately 590,000, is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America and is the smallest country on the continent. The country faces a complex situation as a country of origin, transit, and destination for human trafficking and irregular migration. As of 22 March 2021, the country had recorded […]

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Suriname Herald, “Suriname Closes Borders for Travelers from Midnight,” 13 March 2020, https://www.srherald.com/suriname/2020/03/13/suriname-sluit-vanaf-middernacht-grenzen-voor-reizigers/

17 March 2021 – Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau, with an estimated population of some 1,800,000 people, is located in West Africa and shares borders with Senegal and Guinea. As of 16 March 2021, the country had recorded 3,447 cases and 52 COVID-19 deaths. On 28 March 2020, shortly after the first case was confirmed in the country, a state of emergency with […]

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DW, “COVID-19: Presidente da Guiné-Bissau Renova Estado de Emergencia,” 26 April 2020, https://www.dw.com/pt-002/covid-19-presidente-da-guin%C3%A9-bissau-renova-estado-de-emerg%C3%AAncia/a-53251830

16 March 2021 – Yemen

Amidst an ongoing conflict that has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and widespread famine, migrants and refugees in Yemen–most of whom are from Ethiopia or Somalia–continue to face detention and physical threats in the country, in part because of rumors that they are spreading COVID-19 (see the 4 August 202 update on this […]

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M. MacGregor, “Yemen Detention Center Fire Highlights Dangers for Migrants,” InfoMigrants, 8 March 2021, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/30723/yemen-detention-center-fire-highlights-dangers-for-migrants

12 March 2021 – Somalia

Somalia, a war-torn country located in the Horn of Africa, has a population of approximately 15 million. The population is considered to be particularly vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases because of its poor public health infrastructure that was damaged during years of civil war, ongoing conflicts, and economic underdevelopment. At the same time, […]

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UNSOM, “Somalia’s COVID-19 Response: Internally Displaced People Especially at Risk,” 23 June 2020, https://unsom.unmissions.org/somalia%E2%80%99s-covid-19-response-internally-displaced-people-especially-risk

11 March 2021 – Malta

Following its ad hoc visit to Malta in September 2020, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has expressed serious concerns regarding the country’s detention of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees–particularly during the pandemic. At the time of the visit (17-22 September), Malta was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases while also witnessing increasing […]

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InfoMigrants, “Malta: Mistreatment Claims, Ongoing Pressure Despite a Drop in Migrant Arrivals,” 14 January 2021, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/29626/malta-mistreatment-claims-ongoing-pressure-despite-a-drop-in-migrant-arrivals

10 March 2021 – Seychelles

The Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands off the coast of East Africa, reported its first case of COVID-19 in March 2020; as of 10 March 2021 the country has reported a total of 3,032 cases and 15 related deaths. Measures Seychelles adopted to curb the spread of the virus included suspension of air travel […]

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K. Warren, “Seychelles is Opening to Tourists with no Quarantine or Vaccine Required, and it's Following the Same Model the Maldives Used to Launch its Tourism Success Story,” The Insider, 10 March 2021, https://www.insider.com/seychelles-travel-covid-no-quarantine-or-vaccine-2021-3

09 March 2021 – Equatorial Guinea

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea, a small country that is located on the west coast of Central Africa that also includes nearby islands, has a population of approximately 1.4 million people. As of 9 March 2021, it had recorded 6,371 cases and 96 COVID-19 deaths. On 22 March 2020, a week after the first case […]

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Daily News Egypt, “Equatorial Guinea President Receives 1st Dose of Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine,” 17 February 2021, https://dailynewsegypt.com/2021/02/17/equatorial-guinea-president-receives-1st-dose-of-chinese-covid-19-vaccine/

02 March 2021 – Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia, with a population of approximately 180,000, recorded 3,390 cases and 36 related deaths of COVID-19 as of 1 March 2021. The Caribbean country, similar to many neighbours, appeared to fare well with managing the number of cases during the initial months of the pandemic, reporting only 353 cases and 5 deaths by the […]

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Bordelais Correctional Facility in Saint Lucia, (S. Gaillard,

01 March 2021 – Sao Tome and Principe

The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, a former Portuguese colony located in the Gulf of Guinea in Western Africa, had reported a total of 1,786 COVID-19 cases, representing less than one percent of its population (215,000), as of February 2021. There is little information available about the impact of the pandemic on migrants […]

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R. Graça, “São Tomé e Príncipe: Mortes por Covid-19 disparam e população ignora a doença,” DW, 25 February 2021, https://www.dw.com/pt-002/s%C3%A3o-tom%C3%A9-e-pr%C3%ADncipe-mortes-por-covid-19-disparam-e-popula%C3%A7%C3%A3o-ignora-a-doen%C3%A7a/a-56699946

26 February 2021 – Guinea

Guinea, located on the west coast of Africa, declared a state of emergency on 26 March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included several emergency measures like the closure of borders and schools. By 26 February 2021, the country had recorded 15,789 cases of COVID-19 and 88 related deaths. On 14 February 2021, […]

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Fraternité Des Prisons Members Along with the Dubréka Prison and Coyah Prison Directors, (GuinéeMatin,

25 February 2021 – Malaysia

In the face of mounting international outrage, on 23 February Malaysian authorities proceeded with the deportation of 1,086 people to Myanmar, who included suspected refugees as well as many children (see the 18 February update below for additional details). The deportations took place as the COVID-19 pandemic has severely hurt the job prospects of migrants […]

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An immigration truck believed to be carrying Myanmar migrants from Malaysia back to their homeland (Getty Images,

24 February 2021 – Eswatini

The Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), one of the smallest countries in Africa, is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of 1.1 million people. Similar to other countries, Eswatini restricted the movement of refugees after the onset of the pandemic as a purported measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. […]

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IOL News, “Eswatini Suspends Prison Visits, Restricts Hospital Visits as Covid-19 Fears Mount,” 18 March 2020, https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/eswatini-suspends-prison-visits-restricts-hospital-visits-as-covid-19-fears-mount-45117235

23 February 2021 – Norway

The supervisory board of Norway’s Trandum Detention Centre, in its annual report about operations at the facility, expressed concern about the implementation of certain COVID-19 measures. Of particular concern are isolation measures imposed on all newly arriving detainees, who are required to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. During this period, they are locked in […]

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L. Fransson, “Norge behandlet meg som et dyr,” Dagbladet, 9 December 2020, https://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/norge-behandlet-meg-som-et-dyr/73098707

22 February 2021 – Dominica

Dominica, a Caribbean island nation with an estimated population of 70,000, has legal provisions regulating detention and deportation of “prohibited immigrants” in its Immigration and Passport Act. The act also provides detention measures for “any person certified by a medical officer to be suffering from a contagious or infectious disease which makes his entry into […]

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Police Headquarters, Roseau, Dominica (The Sun Dominica, “

22 February 2021 – Russian Federation

In December 2020, the Russian government issued a presidential decree extending several COVID-19-related measures affecting foreigners in the country. Measures, which were extended until 15 June 2021, include the suspension of forced expulsions and deportations, as well as the suspension of cancellations of refugee status, visas, work permits, residence permits, and other documents. Certain people […]

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28 Pro Navalny Protestors Held in a Cell Meant for 8 People in Sakhrovo Detention Centre, (Protestny MGU,

18 February 2021 – Malaysia

Despite strong criticism from civil society organisations and the UN, Malaysian authorities are preparing to deport 1,200 people to Myanmar on 23 February even as the crisis in Myanmar spurred by the recent military coup there continues to deepen. Observers are particularly concerned that refugees and asylum seekers will be amongst those deported by Malaysia. […]

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Malaysian Immigration Officers usher Detainees into a Truck after a Raid in 2018, (Getty Images,

17 February 2021 – Barbados

The small Caribbean island of Barbados, part of the British Commonwealth, has recently experienced a sharp spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. As of 14 February 2021, Barbados had 2,061 positive cases of COVID-19. Nearly 80 percent of these cases have been reported since the start of 2021; Barbados had reported only 383 positive […]

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Loop News, “HMP Dodds Following Health Protocols During COVID-19,” 19 April 2020,” https://www.loopnewsbarbados.com/content/hmp-dodds-following-health-protocols-during-covid-19

16 February 2021 – United States

New U.S. President Joseph Biden issued a series of immigration-related executive orders that roll back signature–and highly controversial–programs of the Trump administration. At the same time, reports have surfaced about how guards at privately operated immigration detention centres–which greatly expanded under Trump–threatened detainees with exposure to COVID-19 if they resisted being deported, adding fuel to […]

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New Immigration Detention Beds Operated by Private Prison Companies Diagram, (Human Rights Watch, American Civil Liberties Union, and National Immigrant Justice Centre, “Justice-Free Zones: U.S. Immigration Detention Under the Trump Administration,” April 2020, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/justice_free_zones_immigrant_detention.pdf)

12 February 2021 – Colombia

On 8 February 2021, Colombian President Iván Duque announced that the country would give protected status to almost one million undocumented Venezuelan migrants present in the country, a move that contrasted sharply with the government’s previous declarations opposing vaccinations for undocumented migrants. President Duque said that the protective status would last 10 years, enabling migrants […]

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Beritza Colina, who travelled from Caracas to Bogotá, Waits with her Children to be Evacuated at a Clinic for Migrants, (Joe Parkin Daniels,

11 February 2021 – New Zealand

New Zealand has received fresh criticism for the prolonged detention of people in asylum and immigration enforcement procedures since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asylum Seekers Support Trust and other civil society observers have criticised the government’s handling of detained asylum seekers, as well as the lack of support provided those granted status. […]

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S. Kilgallon, “No Crime, no Charge - the Asylum Seekers Welcomed to NZ with Jailtime,” stuff, 27 December 2020, https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/123786697/no-crime-no-charge--the-asylum-seekers-welcomed-to-nz-with-jailtime

10 February 2021 – Haiti

Haiti reported its first two positive COVID-19 cases on 20 March 2020. As a response, the government implemented policies such as the closing of airports, ports, schools, and factories, limits on gatherings, and a curfew. The shared border with the Dominican Republic (DR) was also officially closed, yet border crossings persisted in practice and were […]

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J. Charles, “COVID-19 has reached Haiti’s overcrowded prisons. Some fear a human rights disaster,” Miami Herald, 27 May 2020, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article243018516.html

09 February 2021 – Spain

During the past year Spain’s Canary Islands, situated off the western coast of North Africa, have witnessed a surge in migrant and asylum-seeker arrivals, a recurring situation that emerges when migration routes elsewhere in Africa are blocked. According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, the number of maritime arrivals during 2020 was eight times higher than […]

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Camp Canarias 50 Viewed from Above in Gran Canaria on 26 January 2021, (Borja Suarez, Reuters,

08 February 2021 – Congo (Republic)

According to UNHCR, as of mid-2020 the Republic of Congo (RoC)–which is facing the double threat of COVID-19 and Ebola–was hosting 43,656 refugees and asylum seekers and 304,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Refugees and asylum seekers are primarily from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic, and Rwanda. On March 15, […]

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NHRC and UNDP Training Seminar in Brazzaville on 28 January 2021, (T. Bosley,

04 February 2021 – Lebanon

Lebanon, which is currently under a strict lockdown that includes a 24/7 curfew, recently witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases. On 27 January, the country’s interim health minister announced that every person in the country—regardless of their nationality–would receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Questions remain, however, whether many refugees will be willing to present themselves for […]

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R. Hodzic, “Plight of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Must Not be Ignored,” Al Jazeera, 26 January 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/1/26/plight-of-syrian-refugees-in-lebanon-must-not-be-ignored

04 February 2021 – United Kingdom

Since opening as asylum accommodation in October 2020, the UK’s Napier Barracks–formerly military barracks operated by the Ministry of Defence–have been the subject of intense criticism. Run by a private contractor (Clearsprings, which stands to make £1 billion in ten years from its government contracts to run asylum centres in Wales and South East England), […]

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J. Shenker, “Locked in Barracks with Covid Running Rampant. Is This Any Way to Treat Asylum Seekers?” The Guardian, 27 January 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/27/locked-covid-asylum-seekers-napier-barracks-kent

02 February 2021 – Switzerland

On 26 January 2021, the SRF/RTS reported that the Asylum Departure Centre in Aarwangen was placed under quarantine by the Canton of Bern because 19 of its 100 inhabitants had tested positive for COVID-19. They also closed the facility’s kindergarten and school. On 29 January 2021, the Canton reported that the number of positive cases […]

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Frambois Detention Centre Seen From Outside in 2011, (Fernand Melgar,

30 January 2021 – South Sudan

South Sudan is one of the largest countries of refugee origin in Africa. An , westimated 2.2 million South Sudanese have fled the country. At the same time, it hosts a considerable refugee population. According to the UNHCR, South Sudan was hosting 310,006 refugees as of November 2020, 98 percent of whom were living in […]

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UN News, “South Sudan: Coronavirus Cases Confirmed Inside UN Civilian Protection Site,” 13 May 2020, https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/05/1064012

28 January 2021 – Syria

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 have steadily risen across Syria – in large part because key parties (both regime and opposition) have failed to take adequate steps to protect against the virus. By the end of 2020, 39,728 cases had been reported (11,434 in […]

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N. Ahmado, “Syrian Activists Fear COVID-19 Outbreak in Syria's Underground Prisons,” Voice of America, 21 November 2020, https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/syrian-activists-fear-covid-19-outbreak-syrias-underground-prisons

27 January 2021 – Liechtenstein

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Liechtenstein had recorded 2,454 cases of COVID-19 as of 26 January 2021. Following confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in the country on 3 March 2020, the government imposed various restrictive measures, including a ban on all public and private events, a prohibition for more than five people […]

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UNHCR, “Asile au Liechtenstein,” https://www.unhcr.org/dach/ch-fr/nos-activites/asile-au-liechtenstein

25 January 2021 – Cyprus

As of late January, the prolonged forced quarantine of migrants and asylum seekers continued at the Temporary Accommodation Centre in Kokkinotrimithia (“Pournara”) and the Kofinou Reception and Accommodation Centre, under strict lockdown since mid-November 2020. This has caused tensions among the migrants in the already overpopulated centres, and put unaccompanied children at the facilities at […]

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Two Children and an Official at the Pournara Migrant Camp, (Cyprus Mail,

22 January 2021 – Australia

After more than a year of detention inside Melbourne hotels, 65 medically vulnerable male asylum seekers have been released. Previously confined in offshore detention facilities, the men were transferred to mainland Australia in 2019 under the now-repealed Medevac laws, so that they could receive urgent medical treatment. Since their arrival however, they have been held […]

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A. MC, “Medically Vulnerable Refugees in Australia Hotels Finally Freed,” Al Jazeera, 22 January 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/22/medically-vulnerable-refugees-in-australia-hotels-finally-freed

20 January 2021 – Greece

In mid-January, Greece’s Ministry of Migration and Asylum published their annual statistics from 2020, which show a 80 percent decrease in migrant arrivals and a 63 percent decrease in the populations of its reception centres on the islands. Combined with the closure of numerous detention facilities, the ministry proclaimed that 2020 was the year that […]

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A View of the Petropoulaki Camp in Filippiada, (Ministry of Migration & Asylum,

19 January 2021 – Germany

Throughout 2020, Germany conducted numerous removal flights despite concerns regarding the dangers they present for deportees and their home communities as a result of the pandemic. (For more information on deportations from Germany, see 17 July update on this platform). Most recently–and amidst spiralling infection rates in the country–Germany deported 26 rejected Afghan asylum seekers […]

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German Police Officers Escort a Rejected Afghan Asylum Seeker to Board an Aircraft Heading to Kabul at an Airport in Leipzig in August 2019, (Michael Kappeler, DPA,

18 January 2021 – Guatemala

In mid-January, as thousands of mostly Honduran migrants, including many children, began crossing the Guatemalan border as part of a new “caravan” seeking passage to the United States, Guatemalan security forces forcefully repelled them, leading to scenes of violence and chaos near the border. Videos posted on social media and news networks showed scuffles between […]

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Guatemalan Security Forces Clash with a Group of Honduran Migrants, (Esteban Biba, EPA,

15 January 2021 – Turkmenistan

Despite soaring infection rates in many parts of the world, authorities in Turkmenistan continue to deny the existence of Coronavirus within the country and have failed to promote preventive measures such as social distancing. At the end of December, the country extended the suspension of international flights, as well as domestic rail and bus services, […]

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RFE/RL, “Deadly Prison Outbreak Belies Turkmenistan's 'Coronavirus-Free' Claim,” 16 October 2020, https://www.rferl.org/a/deadly-prison-outbreak-belies-turkmenistan-s-coronavirus-free-claim/30897206.html

14 January 2021 – Libya

Thousands of migrants and refugees continue to be detained in Libya’s network of detention centres, despite rising COVID-19 case numbers. As of 14 January, 107,434 cases and 1,645 deaths had been officially recorded in the country, although real figures are expected to be higher given a lack of testing. According to IOM and UNHCR, as […]

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B. Trew, “‘Left to Rot’: Inside Libya’s Squalid Detention Centres Where Migrants and Refugees Suffer a ‘Slow Death,’”The Independent, 4 September 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/libya-detention-centres-migrant-refugees-deaths-zintan-tripoli-a9703161.html

13 January 2021 – Bosnia and Herzegovina

The controversial Lipa migrant camp was destroyed by a fire in late December, leaving some 1,400 men homeless. The fire was reportedly started by residents of the camp, many of whom had already begun moving out due to the poor living conditions there. IOM’s Chief of Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) told InfoMigrants: “Suddenly […]

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M. MacGregor, “Refugee Camp Burns in Bosnia,” InfoMigrants, 23 December 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/29296/refugee-camp-burns-in-bosnia

12 January 2021 – Colombia

Colombia is currently under a state of emergency, which has been extended until 28 February 2021. Decree 1550 implementing the state of emergency includes additional restrictions like the closure of land and river borders with Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Peru, and Brazil. Colombia’s immigration authority, Migración Colombia, reported in late 2020 that despite the emergency measures […]

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Venezuelan Nationals Carrying an Unconscious Woman as They Try to Enter Colombia, (Schneyder Mendoza, AFP,

11 January 2021 – United Kingdom

Following the news of a COVID outbreak in Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (see 16 December update on this platform), on 8 January the Home Office announced the centre’s temporary closure (for ten days) due to a number of positive cases amongst staff. A Home Office spokesman confirmed that several detainees had been transferred to […]

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Brook House Detention Centre Seen From Outside, (BBC,

06 January 2021 – Bangladesh

On 5 January, journalist Shiafur Rahman reported the first death at the controversial Rohingya refugee centre on Bangladesh’s Bhasan Char island in the Indian Ocean. Rahman also reported the introduction of new restrictions of movement for those at the centre, which were supposedly introduced after an escape attempt. Refugees reportedly now require permission to go […]

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Rohingya Refugees Aboard Bound for Bhasan Char in December 2020, (Mohammad Ponir,

03 January 2021 – United States

As of mid-December 2020, more than 7,800 ICE detainees had tested positive for COVID-19 and eight deaths related to the virus recorded. According to the San Antonio Express News, in detention centres under the jurisdiction of the San Antonio field office alone, there have been more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. In a commentary published […]

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A Protestor Holding up a Sign During a Protest Against US and Mexican Migration Policies at the San Ysidrio Crossing Port, (AFP, Getty Images,

21 December 2020 – Madagascar

After its confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19, in March 2020, the government cancelled all international flights and announced a lockdown in the capital, starting on 22 March. Authorities gradually relaxed these measures, allowing schools and stores to reopen and reducing curfews. This was followed by a surge in new COVID-19 cases across the […]

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A Health Official Spraying a Shop Front in Toamasina in June 2020, (Rijasolo, AFP,

17 December 2020 – Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan considers labour migration to be “part of the national development strategy” with remittances accounting for a substantial part of the country’s economy. Large numbers of Kyrgyz nationals work in countries across Asia and Europe, including in particular Russia (which recorded 959,000 border crossings by Kyrgyz nationals in 2019), Kazakhstan, and Turkey. In 2019, 29.2 […]

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Migrant Camp in the Orenburg Region in Russia, (Current Time,

16 December 2020 – United Kingdom

A coronavirus outbreak was confirmed at the UK’s Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (close to Gatwick Airport) in early December. While the Home Office declined to clarify how many positive cases had been recorded or how many people were in isolation at that time, the Guardian reported that at least 17 detainees had tested positive […]

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Napier Barracks in Folkestone Kent (Dan Kitwood, Getty Images,

15 December 2020 – Central African Republic

On 27 March, roughly a week after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the Central African Republic (CAR), authorities temporarily restricted entry for non-nationals and grounded all flights. President Faustin Archange Touadéra announced additional measures, including the closure of schools, bars, and an obligation to inform health authorities of any suspected coronavirus cases. The […]

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A Red Cross Volunteer in Bégoua Teaching a Child How To Properly Wash His Hands, (ICRC,

14 December 2020 – Gabon

Gabon registered its first COVID-19 cases in March and Parliament declared a state of emergency in early April. On 10 April, the government announced that the capital, Libreville, as well as neighbouring municipalities, would impose lockdown measures. On 3 May, UNICEF reported while Libreville remained the main hotspot. As of 14 December, Gabon had recorded […]

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People Waiting for a Drinkable Water Delivery in Libreville, Gabon, (France 24, A. Saint-Léger & C. Caracena,

13 December 2020 – Netherlands

In early December the Court of the Hague annulled the State Secretary for Justice and Security’s April 2020 decision to deport an Iranian national with severe heart problems, on the grounds that the State Secretary had failed to take into account Iran’s COVID-19 situation. In the court’s opinion, the plaintiff could have lacked access to […]

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Rotterdam Detention Centre Seen From Outside, (Ziarah Utara,

11 December 2020 – Turkey

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s COVID-19 survey, a non-governmental actor in Turkey reported that the country has not delayed or stopped issuing administrative detention orders as a consequence of the global pandemic. The source, who asked to remain anonymous but whose identity was verified by the GDP, said that they had observed detainees confined […]

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Migrants Waiting Near  Buffer Zone at the Turkey-Greece Border in the Edirne District in February 2020, (AFP,

10 December 2020 – Liberia

After declaring a national emergency in late March 2020, the Liberian government used emergency powers that enable it to require the registration of residents in infected areas, restrict movement within infected areas, and quarantine infected people. The government designated two of the 15 counties in the country as infected and imposed a 21-day lockdown along […]

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Newly Arrived Refugees from Côte d'Ivoire Await Registration in Behwalay Village in Liberia, (UNHCR, Roland Tuley,

08 December 2020 – Dominican Republic

On 1 March 2020, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the Dominican Republic. Between 15 and 19 March, the government adopted a series of emergency measures, including halting flights from Europe, China, South Korea, and Iran; suspending ferry arrivals; and closing border crossings with Haiti. As of December 2020, the country had registered 149,138 […]

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IOM, “IOM Aids COVID-Impacted Communities on Haiti-Dominican Border and Worldwide,” 10 November 2020, https://reliefweb.int/report/dominican-republic/iom-aids-covid-impacted-communities-haiti-dominican-border-and-worldwide

07 December 2020 – Bangladesh

Despite repeated calls from human rights groups for Bangladeshi authorities to remove more than 300 refugees from the island of Bhasan Char (see 10 July Bangladesh update on this platform), The Guardian reports that in early December the country began moving even more Rohingya families from camps near the Myanmar border to the controversial refugee […]

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K. Ahmed & R. Ahmed, “Bangladesh Begins Moving Rohingya Families to Remote Island,” The Guardian, 4 December 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/03/bangladesh-begins-moving-rohingya-families-to-remote-island

04 December 2020 – Cote d’Ivoire

The first case of COVID-19 in Côte d’Ivoire was confirmed on 11 March after an Ivorian national returned from Italy. On 23 March 2020, the Government declared a state of emergency via Decree n°2020-351, put in place a curfew from 9PM to 5AM, and closed all restaurants, bars, and nightclubs and imposed further restrictive measures. […]

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Asylum Seekers Fleeing Electoral Tensions in Côte d'Ivoire Wait at the Buuto Border Post in Liberia, (UNHCR,

03 December 2020 – Malta

In a habeas corpus case, a Maltese court ordered the release of detained asylum seekers, describing their treatment as “abusive and farcical.” The four men, who arrived in Malta on 7 June 2020, had been detained in Safi Barracks and Lyster Barracks for 166 days and alleged that they had not been informed of any […]

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M. Agius, “Court Condemns Arbitrary Detention of Asylum Seekers as ‘Abusive and Farcical,’” Newsbook, 28 November 2020, https://newsbook.com.mt/en/court-condemns-arbitrary-detention-of-asylum-seekers-as-abusive-and-farcical/

03 December 2020 – Uruguay

In March, Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou moved to impose a series of COVID-related restrictions, including closing non-essential shops and closing its border with Brazil. The moves–which notably did not include lock-down–came after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Montevideo on 13 March 2020. As of 30 November 2020, Uruguay had reported less than […]

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A Kit Used to Check for Antibodies in People with COVID-19, in Uruguay, 50,000 kits Were Developed, (Imago Images, Agencia EFE,

02 December 2020 – Switzerland

In a recent finding, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) concluded that Switzerland violated provisions in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when it failed to show due diligence in assessing a child’s best interests and did not take the child’s views into account in a case involving a […]

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24 Heures, “Asile: Pas de Détention si le Renvoi est Empêché par le Coronavirus,” 8 October 2020, https://www.24heures.ch/asile-pas-de-detention-si-le-renvoi-est-empeche-par-le-coronavirus-783597632491

01 December 2020 – France

In November, several organisations that are part of the Association Nationale d’Assistance aux Frontières pour les Étrangers (Anafé) petitioned the administrative courts of Nice and Marseille to rule on the right of access of associations to places of deprivation of liberty of the border police (‘Police Aux Frontières’ or ‘PAF’) at Menton pont Saint-Louis and […]

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Anafé Logo, (Anafe.org, Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://bit.ly/2JuBEij)

30 November 2020 – Israel

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in early March 2020, after the discovery of seven cases in Bethlehem linked to a tourist group from Greece. In response, the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency, imposed a citywide lockdown, and enforced a curfew. Between March and June, there […]

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Magen David Adom Medical Workers at a Drive-Through Testing Site at the Entrance of an East Jerusalem neighbourhood on 2 April 2020, (Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90,

27 November 2020 – Austria

Der Standard reported that Austrian police were involved in several cases of pushbacks to Slovenia followed by chain pushbacks to Bosnia in September. According to freelance journalist Christof Mackinger, the Austrian authorities are said to have been involved in two instances of illegal pushbacks. The first incident took place on 5 September and was documented […]

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Migrants at the Bosnian-Croatian Border in December 2019, (Manu Brabo, AP,

26 November 2020 – Ireland

In late November, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture released a report about its monitoring visit to Ireland in 2019. In the report, the committee reiterates its long-standing calls for Irish authorities to cease the use of prisons for immigration detention, noting that “a prison is by definition not a suitable place in […]

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Dublin Live, “Coronavirus Ireland: Covid-19 Outbreak Fear at Dublin Prison as New Prisoner Struck with Virus,” 12 September 2020, https://www.dublinlive.ie/news/dublin-news/coronavirus-ireland-dublin-prison-case-18924231

25 November 2020 – Malaysia

In stark contrast to the increasing efforts by many countries around the world to decrease or end child immigration detention, Malaysia continues to detain large numbers of children, despite the dangers presented by the spread of COVID-19. While UNICEF has called on governments to immediately release children to protect them during the pandemic, Malaysia reported […]

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R. Latiff, “In Malaysia’s Sabah, Pandemic Rages as Migrants Flee Testing,” Reuters, 23 November 2020, https://uk.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-malaysia-sabah/in-malaysias-sabah-pandemic-rages-as-migrants-flee-testing-idUSL4N2HY17A

24 November 2020 – Tajikistan

Although Tajik authorities closed the country’s borders to travellers from more than 30 countries in early March, the government initially denied the existence of the virus–even allowing mass public events to be held. In April however, following the announcement that the WHO would send a team to investigate the country’s virus-free status, authorities confirmed the […]

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C. Putz, “Zero to 15: Tajikistan Finally Confirms First Cases of COVID-19,” The Diplomat, 30 April 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/zero-to-15-tajikistan-finally-confirms-first-cases-of-covid-19/

23 November 2020 – Greece

On 19 November 2020, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) published a report on its visit to Greece on 13-17 March 2020. The delegation visited several police and border guard establishments in the Evros and Samos regions as well as three immigration detention facilities: Filakio Reception and Identification Centre, Filakio Pre-removal centre […]

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A Dinghy Carrying Refugees from Gambia and the Republic of the Congo Approaches Lesbos, Greece, February 2020, (Aris Messinis, AFP,

21 November 2020 – United States

On 18 November 2020, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to cease the expulsion of unaccompanied migrant children during the pandemic, halting a policy that has resulted in thousands of rapid deportations of minors. The government has expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied children seeking protection since March on the basis of a health order […]

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Children Walking in a line at a Tent Encampment in Tornillo, Texas, on 19 June 2018, (Mike Blake, Reuters,

20 November 2020 – Sudan

Since early November, more than 27,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled the Tigray region and crossed into Sudan. According to UNHCR, on just one day–15 November–some 5,000 refugees arrived in Sudan’s border provinces of Kassala and al-Qadarif. Information campaigns are reported to have been initiated to ensure that refugees crossing into Sudan understand how to avoid […]

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UNHCR, “Aid Urgently Needed for Ethiopians Streaming Into Sudan,” 17 November 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/latest/2020/11/5fb3cb3e4/aid-urgently-needed-ethiopians-streaming-sudan.html

20 November 2020 – Spain

There have been a number of judicial decisions in Spain in recent weeks that could have crucial impacts on how migrants and asylum seekers are treated, in particular with respect to Covid-related border controls. In one case from November, Spain’s Constitutional Court found that a provision in the country’s controversial Citizen Security Law allowing push […]

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The Camp Installed in Barranco Seco, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Where Part of the Migrants from the Arguineguin Port Are Expected, (Angel Medina, EFE,

19 November 2020 – Russian Federation

Foreign migrant workers have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic in Russia, with large numbers losing employment amidst the economic downturn. In a survey conducted by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in April-May 2020, 75 percent of surveyed migrants reported having lost their jobs or being forced into unpaid leave, […]

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Tass News, “Рынок

18 November 2020 – Uzbekistan

Prior to the pandemic, between two and three million Uzbek nationals worked overseas–primarily in Russia, as well as in countries such as Kazakhstan, Turkey, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. Hard-hit by the repercussions of the pandemic and with many losing their sources of employment, significant numbers of Uzbek migrant workers have sought to […]

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B. Pannier, “Uzbekistan’s Coronavirus ‘Success Story’ Rapidly Falls Apart,” RFERL, 30 July 2020, https://www.rferl.org/a/uzbekistan-s-coronavirus-success-story-rapidly-falls-apart/30756514.html

16 November 2020 – Spain

In October, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a ruling on a deportation case in Spain that would limit the country’s ability to enforce removal decisions in certain cases based on provisions of the EU Return Directive. The court in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha region had asked the CJEU whether authorities could […]

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A Migrant Standing Outside the Aluche CIE, (Claudio Alvarez,

12 November 2020 – Cyprus

Since the onset of the pandemic, Cyprus has engaged in multiple offshore pushbacks, preventing boats carrying hundreds of refugees from disembarking on the island. These incidents appear to have increased in frequency since August, as growing numbers of boats have attempted the journey from Lebanon. Although it is not known how many boats have departed […]

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Kathimerini Cyprus, “Boat Carrying Refugees Pushed Back by Cyprus, Ends Up In UN Area,” 1 September 2020, https://knews.kathimerini.com.cy/en/news/boat-carrying-refugees-pushed-back-by-cyprus-ends-up-in-un-area

12 November 2020 – Guatemala

The Guatemalan Migration Institute reports that more than 1,400 unaccompanied minors have been expelled by U.S. authorities to Guatemala since March. The deportations have often taken place before the children are given the opportunity to apply for asylum. In October alone, some 407 children were expelled. (By contrast, 385 unaccompanied children were deported to Guatemala […]

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J. Abbott, “US Accused of Using Covid as Excuse to Deny Children Right to Asylum,” The Guardian, 10 November 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/10/us-child-deportations-guatemala-pandemic

11 November 2020 – Hungary

In October, the European Commission opened asylum-related infringement procedures against Hungary. According to ECRE, this is the fifth time such a procedure has been opened against the country since 2015. In a letter of formal notice, the commission says that new asylum procedures that were introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic are in breach […]

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UNHCR, “Access to Asylum Further at Stake in Hungary,” 29 June 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2020/6/5efa0f914/access-asylum-further-stake-hungary-unhcr.html

10 November 2020 – United States

There is a growing body of evidence revealing how the Trump administration, acting through the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection agencies, has exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent access to asylum procedures, ramp up summary deportations of children and other vulnerable individuals, and decrease transparency with respect to measures […]

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The Words 'Help We Matter 2' Are Seen on a Window at the Cook County Department of Corrections in April 2020, (K. Krzaczynski, Getty Images,

10 November 2020 – France

Shortly after the onset of the pandemic, France temporarily closed several immigration detention centres (centres de rétention administrative or CRA) (see 16 July and 12 May France updates on this platform). However, the Conseil d’Etat rejected a request to completely shutter CRA’s on 27 March 2020 (see 6 April France update on this platform). Some […]

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The Outside of the Vincennes CRA in 2019, (Infomigrants,

09 November 2020 – Timor-Leste

As of 9 November 2020, there had been only 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Timor-Leste. The government has received praise for its effective containment of COVID-19, in the context of a health system that government officials were concerned would not be able to cope with a public health emergency due to its fledgling nature. […]

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Mr. Joao Carlos Soares, General Director for Environment, Secretary of State for Environment, at a Handwashing Station in Dili, (European Commission,

08 November 2020 – Japan

According to NGO sources, there has been a decrease in arrests and detention orders in Japan during the pandemic. According to the Forum for Refugees Japan (FRJ), the number of detainees had decreased to around 520 by July, compared to 1,054 in April 2020. Additionally, the International Detention Coalition (IDC) reported that 563 asylum seekers […]

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A Detainee Waiting Inside a Tokyo Detention Centre Run by the Regional Immigration Bureau, (Reuters,

06 November 2020 – South Africa

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been widespread concerns about the spread of infection in prisons and amongst vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers (see the 30 March update). An article published in the International Journal for Equity in Health highlights how the restrictive measures implemented by the South African government early on […]

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Voice of America,

04 November 2020 – Venezuela

In contrast to the previously observed flow of Venezuelan nationals returning to their country due to dwindling opportunities and increased hardship brought about by the pandemic (see 12 August Venezuela update on this platform), evidence of a new wave of Venezuelans seeking to flee their homeland is growing. The Colombian Red Cross has reported that […]

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N. Plazas, “Más de 90,000 Venezolanos han Retornado a Venezuela Desde  Colombia Durante la Pandemia,” France 24, 22 July 2020, https://www.france24.com/es/20200721-venezuela-migrantes-colombia-retorno-coronavirus

02 November 2020 – Mexico

The National Institute for Migration (INM) has denied that there are COVID-19 cases amongst immigration detainees. However, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has revealed that at least 19 Honduran detainees confined in the Tapachula Estacion Migratoria (Siglo XXI) detention centre in Chiapas have tested positive. The CNDH also reported that the facility is overcrowded, […]

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A U.S. Customs and Border Officer Guiding Asylum-Seeking Migrants Across a Bridge from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, into the U.S., (Fernando Llano, Associated Press,

01 November 2020 – United Kingdom

So far in 2020, more than 7,400 people have arrived in the UK via small boats, nearly four times as many as in 2019. Seven migrants have died trying to cross the Channel this year, three more than last year. Part of this increase may be due to COVID-19 restrictions and the suspension of resettlement […]

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The Walls Outside Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, Taken on 8 August 2015, (EYE DJ,

28 October 2020 – Gambia

In mid-October, the Gambian government relaxed various COVID-19 restrictions on travel and public gatherings in the run up to its tourism season. The country declared its markets opened, waiving a two-week mandatory quarantine imposed on people arriving in the country. However, travelers are required to show evidence of negative polymerase chain reaction test results conducted […]

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International Organization for Migration (IOM), “Voluntary Returns from Niger to The Gambia Resume After Six-Month Hiatus,” 25 September 2020, https://www.iom.int/fr/news/voluntary-returns-niger-gambia-resume-after-six-month-hiatus

27 October 2020 – Spain

While migrant arrivals to Mainland Spain have decreased this year, the number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in the Canary Islands has significantly increased. According to UNHCR, as of 18 October 24,259 arrivals had been registered in Spain, of whom 9,199 were registered in the Canary Islands. (In all of 2019, 2,698 migrants arrived […]

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M. MacGregor, “Surge in Migrants Reaching Canary Islands,” InfoMigrants, 3 September 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27032/surge-in-migrants-reaching-canary-islands

26 October 2020 – Moldova

Early during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moldovan Parliament declared a 60-day state of emergency (17 March – 15 May 2020) after 29 cases of COVID-19 were registered. While most of the restrictions were gradually dropped, the country nevertheless began to see increases in infections, which began to spike at the end […]

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A Guard Standing in Front of the Chișinău Centre for Eastern Border Migrants, (EU/ENPI,

24 October 2020 – Italy

Migrants and asylum seekers who test positive for COVID-19 are routinely being confined in “inadequate conditions” on quarantine ships stationed off the country’s coast. According to ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana), five quarantine ships are currently in operation; however, the total number of people quarantined on these vessels has not been released. Following a visit […]

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Members of the Italian Red Cross Gather on Quay as a Quarantine Ship Heads Towards Lampedusa Island, (Alessandro Di Meo, EPA,

23 October 2020 – United Kingdom

So far this year, more than 7,400 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived in the UK by small boat–nearly four times as many as in 2019. A new report has revealed that new arrivals are processed at a makeshift facility in Tug Haven, where hundreds are “forced to spend hours in cramped containers on a […]

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Tug Haven Facility Entrance in Dover, Kent, Where Migrants are Being Processed, (HMIP/PA,

23 October 2020 – Greece

Amidst a surge in cases across the country, several migrants and asylum seekers held in Chios’ Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) are reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. (The exact number remains unclear: while Greek media referred to two positive cases confirmed in Chios hospital, InfoMigrants cited reports of “at least 30” confirmed cases.) […]

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Vial Migrant Camp on the Greek Island of Chios, (L. Partsalis, Picture Alliance,

21 October 2020 – Lesotho

In June, a report from the UN Development Program estimated that approximately 93,000 people had returned to Lesotho as a result of COVID-19. The implementation of strict measures in neighbouring South Africa, which impacted the livelihood of migrant workers, helped spur this influx. Since October, migrant workers holding a permit are allowed to travel outside […]

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Ethiopian Airlines Plane With Millions of Medical Supplies Donated by Jack Ma Arrives in Lesotho, (Supplied,

20 October 2020 – Cuba

The Cuban government responded swiftly to the COVID-19 crisis, implementing several restrictions early on in the pandemic including a ban on tourist arrivals and a lockdown for vulnerable people. By August 2020, however, cases began to increase and by mid-October there were a total of 6,220 cases and 125 deaths related to the virus. The […]

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A Street Vendor Wearing a Mask as a Precaution Against the Spread of Coronavirus, (Associated Press,

19 October 2020 – Tanzania

There are nearly 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania, 85 percent of whom live in refugee camps. Doctors Without Borders and other actors have warned about the potential spread of COVID-19 through these camps, especially in Nduta, where self-isolation and physical distancing is reportedly impossible. According to UNHCR, as of 30 September 2020, there […]

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An MSF Health Official Reaches Out to Communities in Nduta Refugee Camp in Tanzania to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19, (MSF,

16 October 2020 – Tunisia

Having largely avoided the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tunisia began experiencing a sharp increase in infections starting in August 2020. This coincided with increased maritime arrivals from Tunisia to Italy and renewed efforts by European leaders to partner with Tunisia in externalising migration controls in the Mediterranean and North Africa. On 10 August, […]

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Migrants Arriving in a Port of Lampedusa, (M. Buccarello, Reuters,

14 October 2020 – Norway

The Norwegian Red Cross has reported that since March, it has been unable to access Norway’s sole long-term detention facility, the Trandum Detention Centre. Although the organisation has remained in close contact with the facility’s staff during the pandemic, it has been unable to physically enter the facility and its volunteers have only been able […]

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Norwegian Red Cross, “Hver uke besøker frivillige fra Røde Kors insatte på Trandum utlendingsinternat,” 24 March 2017, Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz3CHow3Pss

13 October 2020 – Algeria

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), between early September and early October Algerian authorities expelled more than 3,400 people from at least 20 countries, including 430 children and 240 women, all of whom were sent to Niger. The expulsions followed waves of arrests in no fewer than nine cities, during which children were reportedly separated […]

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Human Rights Watch, “Algeria: Migrants, Asylum Seekers Forced Out,” 9 October 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/10/09/algeria-migrants-asylum-seekers-forced-out

12 October 2020 – Congo (Democratic Republic)

As of 12 October 2020, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had detected 10,851 cases of COVID-19 and recorded 276 deaths due to the disease. In addition to outbreaks of cholera, the Ebola virus, and measles, the country now has to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) […]

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WPF Staff Member Standing Behind Checkpoint, (Ben Anguandia, WFP,

11 October 2020 – Jamaica

Jamaica successfully avoided a large COVID-19 outbreak during the initial months of the pandemic. However, since late August 2020, the numbers of confirmed infections have surged, increasing the total number of cases to nearly 8,000 by October 2020. The government announced emergency measures in September, including curfews and limits to the size of public gatherings. […]

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Minister Matthew Samuda is Shown the Cafeteria of the New Broughton Sunset Rehabilitation Adult Correctional Centre by Superintendent A., (Ian Allen,

09 October 2020 – Vanuatu

Amidst fears that the country’s healthcare system would be overwhelmed by a Covid-19 outbreak, Vanuatu announced a State of Emergency and closed its borders to all inbound flights and vessels in March. Said one expert, “Their health system is fragile and even a few cases of Covid-19 will overwhelm their health system.” As of early […]

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Voters Washing Their Hands Before Casting Ballots in a Polling Station on Malekula Island on 19 March 2020, (The MSG Secretariat,

09 October 2020 – Netherlands

Unlike many of its EU neighbours, the Netherlands largely avoided implementing strict measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. But in the past month, the country has seen a surge in new cases, leaving the Netherlands with one of the highest infection rates in the world (160 […]

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Syrian refugee sings while playing Oud at the former prison of De Koepel in Haarlem, Netherlands, on 21 April 2016 (Muhammed Muheisen, AP Photo,

08 October 2020 – Viet Nam

As of 7 October, Viet Nam had detected 1,099 cases of COVID-19, out of a population of 21.5 million people. Although the country has been lauded for its efforts to contain the virus–including through early border closures and widespread quarantine and testing activities–some observers have questioned the government’s transparency in reporting COVID-19 statistics. The Law […]

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P. Jha, “Coronavirus Vietnam: The Mysterious Resurgence of Covid-19,” BBC News, 8 August 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-53690711

07 October 2020 – Libya

COVID-19 cases are rising in Libya, rising from 200 cases in June to some 28,000 cases by October 2020. Movement restrictions along with curfews, as well as the ongoing conflict and economic crisis, have led to sharp increases in food prices, making it hard for refugees and asylum seekers to support themselves. In response, the […]

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Migrants Sitting in a Room in a Detention Centre in Western Libya, (Al-Jazeera,

06 October 2020 – Saudi Arabia

Amnesty International (AI) reported that at least three people died in detention centres housing thousands of Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia (AI 02.10.2020). The rights group said that migrants were facing “unimaginable cruelty,” including being chained together in pairs, and using their cell floors as toilets. AI urged Saudi authorities to improve conditions in the […]

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Ethiopian Migrants Expelled by Yemeni Rebels Who Forced Them to the Saudi Arabian Border, (AFP,

03 October 2020 – Sri Lanka

As of 28 September, Sri Lanka, with a population of 21.5 million, had detected only 3,360 cases of COVID-19. Although the country has been lauded for its containment of the virus, members of Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority have allegedly become stigmatised as carriers of the virus. There is also little information available concerning the impact […]

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A Health Worker Taking a Blood Sample to Test for COVID-19 Antibodies in Colombo, (M. Srinivasan,

02 October 2020 – North Korea

Having closed its borders in January in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus into the country from China, North Korea has declared that it has no cases of COVID-19. The country is believed to have established anti-coronavirus rules that involve “indiscriminate shooting” of anyone approaching its borders illegally. On 24 September 2020, […]

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France24, “North Korea Issues Shoot-To-Kill Orders to Prevent Virus: US,” 11 September 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/20200911-north-korea-issues-shoot-to-kill-orders-to-prevent-virus-us

01 October 2020 – United Kingdom

The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be fundamentally altering how migrants and asylum seekers arrive in the UK … and how the UK responds to these arrivals. So far this year, some 7,000 people have arrived irregularly on small boats that have made the perilous crossing of the Channel–more than three times the number during all […]

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Border Force Officials Recover Dinghy After Migrants Landed on Deal Beach, (Luke Dray, Getty Images,

01 October 2020 – Tuvalu

Like other Pacific-island nations that this platform has reported on (like Samoa and Tonga), Tuvalu had yet to report any COVID-19 cases as of October 2020. In March, the country instituted a State of Emergency and shut its borders to all inbound flights and vessels. Tuvalu has one hospital for its approximately 11,000-person population, with […]

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C. Farbotko and T. Kitara, “How is Tuvalu Securing Against COVID-19?,” DevPolicyBlog, 6 April 2020, https://devpolicy.org/how-is-tuvalu-securing-against-covid-19-20200406/

30 September 2020 – Nauru

During a near 20-year period (2001-2019), the tiny island nation of Nauru hosted a controversial offshore processing centre for Australia that confined asylum seeking men, women, and children in order to prevent them from making their journeys to Australia. Since the facility officially closed, refugees and asylum seekers on the island have faced a precarious […]

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Aerial View of Nauru, (Getty Images,

30 September 2020 – Tonga

In March, Tonga instituted a State of Emergency and shut its borders in order to prevent a domestic outbreak. As with other Pacific-island nations like Palau and Samoa, Tonga remained as of October 2020 one of a small handful of countries that had not reported any COVID-19 cases. Historically, Tonga has not been a destination […]

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Students from the Queen Salote School of Nursing Participate in a Repatriation Drill in June 2020, (Government of the Kingdom of Tonga,

29 September 2020 – Myanmar

There have been some 7,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 147 deaths in Myanmar. After weeks without any local transmissions, Myanmar reported an outbreak in the western Rakhine state in mid-August that has since spread across the country. As of September 21, 45,000 people had been quarantined in the country’s attempts to contain the virus. […]

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Reuters, “Myanmar’s ‘Maximum Containment’ COVID-19 Plan Pushed to Brink as Virus Surges,” Channel News Asia, 24 September 2020, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/covid-19-myanmar-maximum-containment-plan-pushed-brink-13141922

29 September 2020 – Palau

Palau, a Pacific archipelago nation made up of more than 300 islands, has not been a significant destination for asylum seekers or refugees. However, its location–shared maritime borders with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Micronesia–is adjacent to important migration routes in Asia. Nevertheless, the country does not have national asylum legislation and the country is not […]

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Reinalda Ebiklou at the entrance to Belau National Hospital, (Richard Brooks,

28 September 2020 – Bahrain

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Migrant-Rights.org, an advocacy organisation that aims to advance the rights of migrant workers, reported that in Bahrain, due to Covid-19, the Ministry of Interior issued a circular ordering authorities not to detain migrants because of their irregular status until the end of the year. Another circular has […]

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Migrant-Rights.org logo, (Migrant-Rights.org, accessed on 28 September 2020, https://www.migrant-rights.org/)

27 September 2020 – Mongolia

Mongolia has been lauded for its efforts to contain the coronavirus despite having a long, porous border with China. As of 23 September, there had been 313 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no deaths. However, there appears to be no publicly available information indicating the impact of the virus on migrants or asylum seekers, or […]

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The Mongolian Military Mans a Checkpoint During a Covid-19 Outbreak Drill, on 7 May 2020, (A. Nyamdavaa,

26 September 2020 – Samoa

Having closed its borders in March to prevent a domestic outbreak, as of October 2020 Samoa remained one of a small number of countries that had yet to report any Covid-19 cases (along with other Pacific island nations, including Palau [see 29 September update on this platform]). Although the country is a signatory to the […]

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WHO Staff Member Demonstrating Handwashing to Children During the COVID-19 Assessment in Upolu, (WHO,

24 September 2020 – Bangladesh

A controversial refugee settlement set up by the Bangladesh government on the island of Bhasan Char has been under intense scrutiny since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic because of claims by government officials that refugees confined to the site are being kept there as a Covid-19 quarantine measure. This scrutiny has intensified after women […]

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Refugees held on Bhasan Char island protesting to return to Cox’s Bazar during a 3-day “go and see visit” to the island for 40 refugees from the camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 5, 2020 (Human Rights Watch, “Bangladesh: Reunify Rohingya Refugee Families,” 15 September 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/09/15/bangladesh-reunify-rohingya-refugee-families)

23 September 2020 – Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia, which as of 25 August 2020 had no confirmed cases of COVID-19, does not have national asylum legislation and is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. According to the 2020 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report, human traffickers target women from Micronesia for different forms of exploitation. As of […]

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J. Pasley, “Isolation and Closed Borders: Here's How Ten Pacific Island Nations are COVID-19-Free, and the Costs That Come With it,” Business Insider, 22 September 2020, https://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-10-pacific-island-nations-are-covid-19-free-2020-9?r=US&IR=T

22 September 2020 – Greece

More than 240 refugees and migrants have tested positive for Covid-19 in the newly erected Kara Tepe camp on Lesvos. The new camp, which was constructed after a fire levelled Moria camp, is built on a former military firing range near the main town of Mytilene. In the wake of the Moria fire, more than […]

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BBC, “Lesvos: Hundreds Test Positive for Covid-19 After Migrant Camp Fire,” 22 September 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54239446

21 September 2020 – Iraq

Since March, Iraq has imposed movement restrictions and closed border points to control the spread of the virus. The border closures have been a major obstacle for refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Syria. However, UNHCR reports that since July the Peshkhabour Border Crossing Point has been open intermittently—albeit only to accept the readmission of […]

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InfoMigrants, “First European Voluntary Return Flight to Iraq Since Start of Pandemic,” 4 September 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/27057/first-european-voluntary-return-flight-to-iraq-since-start-of-pandemic

18 September 2020 – Kiribati

Kiribati does not operate any dedicated immigration detention facilities. Instead, foreigners who have committed immigration offences may be detained at a motel, hotel, or guesthouse at the cost of the individual passenger, their agent, or their employer. Those who cannot afford accommodation will be detained in a State Prison Facility. As of September 2020, Kiribati […]

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Aerial View of Kiribati (https://www.teriin.org/article/kiribati-land-no-tomorrow)

18 September 2020 – Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Historically, Lao PDR has not been a destination for refugees or asylum seekers. However, the country’s land-locked location and long borders with five other countries has made Lao susceptible to being used as a source, or point of transit, for human traffickers. As the U.S State Department noted in its 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, […]

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WHO, “Prime Minister Thanks Partners for Support During First Phase of Lao PDR’s Battle with COVID-19,” 10 June 2020, https://www.who.int/laos/news/detail/10-06-2020-prime-minister-thanks-partners-for-support-during-first-phase-of-lao-pdr-s-battle-with-covid-19

16 September 2020 – United States

In a complaint submitted to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, a nurse previously employed at the Irwin County Detention Centre in the state of Georgia alleges that the women detainees at the privately-operated centre have suffered severe abuses and “jarring medical neglect” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. According the nurse, Dawn […]

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An aerial view of Irwin County Detention Centre, Georgia (Google Maps)

15 September 2020 – Greece

On 9 September 2020, a few days after several people in Lesvos’ Moria Camp tested positive for Covid-19, fires broke out that destroyed the camp, leaving some 13,000 people without shelter and resulting in a major humanitarian crisis. It is unclear how the fires began but according to Greece’s migration minister, the fires “began with […]

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BBC News, “Moria Migrants: Fire Destroys Greek Camp Leaving 13,000 Without Shelter,” 9 September 2020, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-54082201

14 September 2020 – France

In its response to the GDP’s Covid-19 survey, La Cimade, a French human rights NGO that operates inside many of the country’s immigration detention centres (Centres de Rétention Administrative or CRAs), confirmed previous reports that the country had not implemented a detention moratorium since the onset of the pandemic. The organisation explained, however, that in […]

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Detainees in the Patio of the Vincennes CRA in 2019, (Stéphane de Sakutin,

11 September 2020 – Eritrea

Although Eritrea long hosted a small population of Somali refugees (roughly 2,000 as of early 2019), in mid-2019 the government closed its only refugee camp, Umkulu, spurring most of the refugees to flee across the border into neighbouring Ethiopia. By the end of 2019, UNHCR reported that there were only 650 refugees remaining in the […]

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Eritrean Refugee Camp in the Tigray Region near the Eritrean Border, (Tiksa Negeri, Reuters,

11 September 2020 – Cameroon

A critical humanitarian concern in Cameroon is its growing population of internally displaced people (IDPs), which according to UNHCR has increased substantially in recent months because of violence in northern parts of the country. As of mid-2020 there were nearly one million IDPs in the country, in addition to the more than 400,000 refugees. But […]

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Police Officers Standing in Front of Yaoundé Central Prison, (Africa 24,

10 September 2020 – Fiji

There is little available information about the treatment of migrants or asylum seekers in immigration enforcement procedures in Fiji. Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of people have been arrested and charged for breaching laws and regulations on self-isolation, quarantine, or movement restrictions. Prisons have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, and the Red Cross has assisted […]

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L. Rawalai, “Inmates Reconnect with Families Online,” The Fiji Times, 17 July 2020, https://www.fijitimes.com/inmates-reconnect-with-families-online/

09 September 2020 – Ghana

As of mid-2020, Ghana was hosting more than 12,000 registered refugees and some 400,000 migrants. The online African peace research platform Kujenga Amani reported that Ghana was “slow to recognise the scale of risks posed by restrictive measures such as a partial lockdown, stay at home and border closure, to vulnerable groups in society.” As […]

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A. Abu-bashal, “Ghana pardons 794 prisoners to curb spread of COVID-19,” Anadolu Agency, 3 July 2020, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/ghana-pardons-794-prisoners-to-curb-spread-of-covid-19/1898022

08 September 2020 – Malta

Having closed its ports to migrants in April, purportedly as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic (see 13 April update on this platform), Malta has continued to refuse permission for migrants rescued in the Mediterranean to disembark in the country. Since 5 August, 27 migrants rescued in the Maltese search-and-rescue area have been stranded on […]

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Mission Lifeline Boat Rescuing Refugees and Docking Into Maltese Port, (DW,

08 September 2020 – Burundi

The humanitarian challenges facing Burundi as it struggles to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic stem from the large number of nationals who fled the country seeking refuge in nearby countries and are now returning. According to UNHCR, as of June 2020, there were 334,000 Burundian refugees worldwide, including some 165,000 in Tanzania, 72,000 in Rwanda, […]

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A Voter Holding Her ID with her Mouth While Washing Her Hands Before Voting in the Presidential Election in Giheta, (Berthier Mugiraneza, AP Photo,

07 September 2020 – Djibouti

Djibouti is a source and transit country for migration, to and from the Arabian Peninsula. The GDP has reported in the past that authorities regularly rounded up and arrested undocumented migrants, who were then detained in poor conditions. In the context of the pandemic, the closure of the Ethiopian border caused the blockage of migrants, […]

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Info Migrants, “Djibouti a expulsé plus de 2 000 migrants éthiopiens en avril,” 27 April 2020, https://www.infomigrants.net/fr/post/24369/djibouti-a-expulse-plus-de-2-000-migrants-ethiopiens-en-avril

06 September 2020 – Chad

Chad’s geographic location–as Libya’s southern neighbour and located at a crossroads between east and west Africa–has resulted in a “a complex humanitarian crisis,” according to IOM, and one which is further impacted by the country’s severe economic problems. As of mid-2020, there were an estimated 133,000 internally displaced persons and 475,000 refugees and asylum seekers. […]

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B. Baloch, “Clashes in Sudan’s West Darfur force 2,500 to seek safety in Chad,” UNHCR,  11 August 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2020/8/5f3248204/clashes-sudans-west-darfur-force-2500-seek-safety-chad.html

05 September 2020 – Grenada

With 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in total since the beginning of the pandemic, Grenada was on full lock-down for a week in April. The country now allows entry on the island from other low-risk and medium-risk countries. Travelers coming from these countries are required to present a certified copy of a negative COVID-19 test. […]

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An Aerial View of St. Georges, the Capital of Grenada, (Britannica,

04 September 2020 – Ethiopia

Following Human Rights Watch’s report highlighting the dire conditions that Ethiopian migrants have been held in in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic (see our 21 August update on Saudi Arabia on this platform), the Telegraph has revealed that the Ethiopian government has attempted to silence those stuck inside Saudi detention facilities. A leaked document submitted […]

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Z. Zelalem and W. Brown, “International Condemnation Rains Down on Saudi Arabia After Telegraph Investigation Into Hellish Detention Centres,” The Telegraph, 1 September 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/international-condemnation-rains-saudi-arabia-telegraph-investigation/

04 September 2020 – Spain

In Melilla, more than 1,400 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants–including 150 women and 143 children–have again been confined in the enclave’s overcrowded CETI (Center for Temporary Stay of Immigrants) following a Covid-19 diagnosis. On 21 August, the facility was closed with no-one permitted to enter or exit–despite a judge’s decision on 24 August to overturn […]

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Solidary Wheels, “Melilla - Without Health Guarantees and With Protests,” 26 August 2020, https://en.solidarywheels.org/post/melilla-without-health-guarantees-and-with-protests

03 September 2020 – Argentina

On 31 August 2020, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child praised Argentina’s decision to not deport a Peruvian mother after she completed her sentence for drug trafficking, taking into account the best interests of her three children, marking a new precedent in the country. In 2000, she was sentenced to imprisonment and […]

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ICN Diario, “Por la Pandemia Más de 2.200 Presos Salieron de las Cárceles Federales de Argentina,” 31 July 2020, https://www.icndiario.com/2020/07/pandemia-mas-de-2-200-presos-salieron-de-las-carceles-federales-de-argentina/

03 September 2020 – Greece

Greek authorities reported the first confirmed Covid-19 case in Lesvos’ overcrowded Moria Camp. In response, the country’s ministries for asylum, health, and civil protection announced in a joint statement that the camp would be closed for 14 days, and that authorities were actively tracing and testing all persons who had come into contact with the […]

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Sanitary Facilities at the Moria Camp, (T. Georgiopoulou, “Concern After First Covid Case at Moria Migrant Camp,” Ekathimerini, 3 September 2020, https://www.ekathimerini.com/256512/article/ekathimerini/news/concern-after-first-covid-case-at-moriamigrant-camp)

02 September 2020 – Brunei Darussalam

There is little available information about the treatment of migrants or asylum seekers in Brunei. The government reports that the country has no asylum seekers or refugees, although in the past the country has reported that it has more than 20,000 stateless residents. On 17 March, the Health Ministry stated that “any individual arriving in […]

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02 September 2020 – Botswana

Botswana, which has long operated a “Centre for Illegal Migrants” at Francistown near the border with Zimbabwe and a refugee camp in Dukwi, has struggled in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, repeatedly shutting down various regions of the country as cases have spread. While there appears to be little public information about whether measures […]

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Gerald Estates Centre for Illegal Immigrants, Google Maps, accessed on 2 September 2020, http://tiny.cc/tz7rsz

01 September 2020 – Paraguay

In its official response to the GDP’s Covid-19 survey, Paraguay’s Immigration Service (Dirección General de Migraciones, DGM) reported that the country had not implemented a detention moratorium since the onset of the pandemic. The DGM explained that it is not authorised to order immigration-related detention, that that requires judicial intervention, as per Ley 978/96 de […]

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01 September 2020 – Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands are not signatory to the Refugee Convention, there is no system in place for providing protection to refugees, and there is little information available regarding the country’s treatment of migrants and asylum seekers in immigration enforcement procedures. As of early September 2020, there were no confirmed cases of Covid-19. […]

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United States Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Marshall Islands”, Refworld, 3 March 2017, https://www.refworld.org/docid/58ec8a0013.html

01 September 2020 – Bhutan

As of 2019, Bhutan reportedly had no immigration detention centres and few cases of people being placed in detention for immigration-related reasons. On 23 March, it was made mandatory for all persons travelling into Bhutan to undergo a period of quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There have been reports of people being […]

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28 August 2020 – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Amidst rising xenophobic sentiment in the country (see 29 April update on this platform), in mid-August residents of Velika Kladusa (in the Krajina region, on the Bosnian-Croatian border) staged a protest to denounce purported assaults by foreigners on local civilians. The protestors reportedly blocked a road leading to an asylum seeker reception centre. During the […]

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D. Kovacevic, “Migrants ‘Stranded in Limbo’ at Bosnian Checkpoints,” Balkan Insight, 25 August 2020, https://balkaninsight.com/2020/08/25/migrants-stranded-in-limbo-at-bosnian-checkpoints/

27 August 2020 – United Kingdom

During the first two weeks of August, more than 650 migrants and asylum seekers crossed the Channel from France. With fewer lorries able to cross during the pandemic, migrants and asylum seekers have increasingly sought to attempt the journey in dinghies, often with the aid of smugglers. The country’s Home Office has been advancing alarmist […]

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A Group of Migrants Are Escorted by Border Force Officers Following a Number of Small Boat Incidents in the Channel, Dover, 13 August 2020, (Steve Parsons,

26 August 2020 – Bulgaria

In a follow-up response to its 5 June GDP Covid-19 survey, the Interior Ministry provided additional information regarding removal procedures during the Covid-19 crisis. According to the ministry, removals were halted as there were practical difficulties in carrying out returns due to measures to protect the health of migrants and escort staff, as well as […]

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Busmantsi Detention Centre in Sofia, (Bordermonitoring Bulgaria,

25 August 2020 – Iceland

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Icelandic Parliamentary Ombudsman (Althingi Ombudsman) reported there are no dedicated immigration detention centres in the country (previously, reports from the Council of Europe going back as far as 1998 have indicated that prisons or police stations are used for this purpose). Thus, the Ombudsman did not […]

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Online Page of the Icelandic Parliamentary Ombudsman, (Parliamentary Ombudsman, Website of the Ombudsman, accessed on 24 August 2020, https://www.umbodsmadur.is/)

25 August 2020 – Denmark

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s (GDP) Covid-19 survey, the Danish Department of Prisons and Probations said that there is one main special detention centre for immigration detainees, which it administers (according to GDP data, while Denmark has one long-standing dedicated facility, the Ellebaek Detention Centre, it has recently used other facilities for detaining migrants […]

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Department of Prisons and Probations - Corrections, (Kriminalforsorgen, Department of Prisons and Probation, accessed on 25 August 2020, https://www.europris.org/agency/department-of-prisons-and-probation-dk__trashed/)

25 August 2020 – Hong Kong (China)

Amid a resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, on 19 August a 37-year old Thai man detained at Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) was reported to have tested positive for Covid-19. The Centre for Health Protection subsequently announced that it would test approximately 200 Immigration Department staff and 400 detainees. […]

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Protesters Protesting On the Conditions of Detention and Indefinite Detention at CIC, (Grassmediaaction,

23 August 2020 – Bahamas

The Bahamas operates one dedicated immigration detention centre, the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, which has been repeatedly criticised for having appalling conditions. In early June, a protest broke out in the centre following a hunger strike, with some detainees attempting to escape. Tensions at the facility have reportedly been increasing as Covid-19 slowed deportation and […]

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Islanders Staged a Protest at the Office of the Prime Minister in Nassau, Confirming their Outrage with the Decision to Detain Intercepted Haitian Migrants at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Base on the Island, (D. S. Hamilton,

21 August 2020 – Saudi Arabia

Poor conditions of immigration detention in Saudi-Arabia have been called out several times by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Reports of migrant trafficking and overcrowding in the country’s facilities are numerous. In April, thousands of Ethiopians were expelled from Yemen as Houthi forces declared them “coronavirus carriers” (see our 4 August Yemen update). They were forced […]

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Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopians Detained in Saudi Arabia After Being Expelled by Houthis in Yemen,” Youtube, 13 August 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=8tO1R-hHCCc&app=desktop

20 August 2020 – Togo

According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Togo, there are no dedicated immigration detention centres in the country, and thus it did not answer questions on the GDP Covid-19 survey concerning measures taken to safeguard immigration detainees. However, the commission appeared to indicate that due to border closures, non-citizens stranded in Togo whose […]

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Protective Equipment Including Masks, Disinfectant Gel, Soap, and Food Given to UNHCR to Distribute, (UNHCR,

20 August 2020 – Bolivia

Bolivia has been strongly affected by the Covid-19 crisis. By 31 July, Bolivia had more than 75,000 cases of Covid-19 and 2,894 deaths related to the disease. Faced with the pandemic, the government took several measures including declaring a state of emergency, closing borders, imposing fines and detaining people who do not respect quarantine or […]

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United Nations, “Los Migrantes Tienen Derecho a Regresar a su País Durante la Pandemia del Coronavirus,” 15 April 2020, https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/04/1472872

20 August 2020 – Ethiopia

Ethiopia has a history of sheltering refugees and has long maintained an open-door asylum policy. The country hosts an estimated 769,000 refugees and other “people of concern.” Unlike in many other countries in the region, refugees have the right to access health care services in Ethiopia. However, after the onset of the Covid crisis, there […]

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J. Ashly, “Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia Resist Camp Closure amid COVID-19 Fears,” The New Humanitarian, 17 August 2020, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/08/17/Ethiopia-Eritrea-refugee-camps-coronavirus

19 August 2020 – Slovakia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Slovakian Border and Aliens Police Office of the Presidium of the Police Force reported that the Slovak Republic had not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and that it was not considering such a measure. In addition, no immigration detainees were released due to […]

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Sečovce Immigration Detention Centre, (Korzár Dolný Zemplín, 10 November 2015, https://dolnyzemplin.korzar.sme.sk/c/8066295/v-zariadeni-pre-utecencov-v-secovciach-je-situacia-pokojna.html)

18 August 2020 – Mauritius

By the end of July, Mauritius had recorded nearly 350 cases of Covid-19 as well as 10 related deaths. Mauritius began taking precautionary measures early. On 22 January, the government began screening people upon arrival at the airport and from 28 February, despite there being no confirmed cases in the country, authorities began quarantining visitors […]

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Union Workers Bring Provisions to the 44 Unpaid and Covid-19-vulnerable Indian Migrant Workers Employed by an Indian Construction Company in Mauritius, (Building and Wood Workers' International,

17 August 2020 – Canada

There have been growing tensions between the United States and Canada over Canada’s continuing closure of its border to non-essential US travellers, which has been in effect since 21 March and is slated to remain in effect until September. Penalties for unlawfully crossing into Canada can be expensive, and can also involve detention and incarceration. […]

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A Prison Guard Keeps Watch as Medical Workers Walk at a Secure Mobile Medical Unit Set-up at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital to Treat Prisoners with Covid-19, (Jesse Winter, Reuters,

17 August 2020 – United States

A damning new report in the New York Times (16 August) reveals the extensive use of hotels and untrained private contractors to detain unaccompanied children and families as part of speedy removal proceedings. The practice, part of the Trump administration’s pandemic-related immigration and border measures, aims to quickly “expel” migrants from the country rather than […]

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A Person Waves to Protesters Demonstrating Against the Practice of Detaining Migrants in Hotels at a Hampton Inn in McAllen in July, (Joel Martinez, The Monitor,

15 August 2020 – Guyana

As of 12 August 2020, Guyana had registered 602 cases of Covid-19 and 22 deaths related to the disease. Guyana has been an important destination for Venezuelans leaving their country. In 2019, the International Crisis Group reported that there were more than 36,000 Venezuelans in Guyana. According to the aid group Response for Venezuelans (R4V), […]

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IOM Workers Providing Essential Non-Food Items to Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in Guyana, (IOM,

15 August 2020 – Belize

Belize does not appear to have a dedicated immigration detention facility though it detains migrants in administrative procedures in Belize Central Prison. On 13 August, visits to the prison were suspended indefinitely due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in the country. There had been no confirmed cases in Belize Central Prison as of mid-August. […]

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A Sign at the Belize Central Prison Reminding Inmates of Covid-19 Prevention Measures, (Belize Central Prison, W. Pitts,

14 August 2020 – Angola

According to UNHCR, as of mid-2020 there were 80,698 refugees and asylum seekers in the country. Angola had 1,762 cases of COVID-19 as of 13 August, however there is little information about whether infections have been detected among the country’s refugee population. In late May, after a 60-day state of emergency, the government began loosening […]

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A Dormitory inside the Trinta Detention Centre for Foreigners, east of Luanda, (France 24,

13 August 2020 – Finland

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the deputy director of the Joutseno Reception Centre reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established in the country. The administration said that new detention orders have been issued during the Covid-19 crisis period but that the number of detainees has been lower […]

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Metsälä Detention Centre, Helsinki, Finland, (Otto Karvonen,

13 August 2020 – Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago adopted a series of measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including health-related measures, employment benefits, food handouts, and temporary extension of residence permits and certificates. However, most asylum seekers and irregular migrants, mainly from Venezuela, did not benefit from these measures, aside from receiving primary health care (see 9 May Trinidad […]

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Migrants and Asylum Seekers Waiting to be Registered During the Two Week Registration Period in T&T in 2019, (Looptt,

12 August 2020 – Venezuela

During the four-year period 2016-2019, more than 4.6 million men, women, and children fled or otherwise departed Venezuela because of burgeoning political and economic crises. According to the UNHCR, some 4,000 and 5,000 Venezuelan nationals were leaving the country every day, mainly travelling on foot to neighbouring countries like Colombia, Peru, or Ecuador; thousands of […]

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Venezuelan Migrants Stuck at the Colombian Border, (Stefano Pozzebon,

12 August 2020 – Andorra

The tiny country of Andorra, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has one of the highest percentages of international migrants in the world, which as of 2017 accounted for more than 50 percent of the country’s population of some 80,000. To date, the GDP has not identified any dedicated immigration removal facilities, and […]

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11 August 2020 – Belgium

According to an international organisation official who asked to remain anonymous, but whose identity was verified by the GDP, while no moratorium on new immigration detention orders was established, fewer detention orders have been issued since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Director-General of the Immigration Office (IO) and the Minister for Asylum and […]

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Migrants Left Homeless at the Maximilien Parc in Brussels, (Plateforme Citoyenne de Soutien aux Réfugiés, L. Carretero,

10 August 2020 – Croatia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Croatian Interior Ministry provided detailed information about measures that have been adopted in reception centres hosting asylum seekers. They also provided some limited information about Covid-19 procedures adopted for cases involving police interaction with “illegal migrants and aliens.” However, the ministry gave no specific information concerning […]

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Ježevo Immigration Detention Centre centar za strance (RTL,

07 August 2020 – Poland

Although the number of confirmed cases continues to rise in Poland, authorities have continued to refuse to issue a moratorium on new immigration detention orders (this was previously confirmed by the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights in early July, see 8 July update). According to an international organisation who asked to remain anonymous, but whose […]

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J. Plucinska and A. Koper, “Poland Reports Record Increase in COVID  Cases as Coal Mines Hit,” Reuters, 4 August 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-poland/poland-reports-record-increase-in-covid-cases-as-coal-mines-hit-idUSKCN25011C

06 August 2020 – Switzerland

As the GDP previously reported (see 27 June update), while Swiss authorities did not issue a moratorium on new detention orders during the pandemic, many immigration detainees were released due to the impossibility of conducting returns. This has been confirmed by Amnesty International Switzerland, which informed the GDP that some cantons declared a moratorium on […]

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M. Shields, “Switzerland Expands COVID-19 Quarantine watchlist,” Reuters, 22 July 2020, https://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/world/switzerland-expands-covid-19-quarantine-watchlist-476185/

05 August 2020 – Saudi Arabia

Although the UN urged Saudi Arabia to cease deportations in April, Riyadh has continued the practice throughout the pandemic. Since March, 2,870 Ethiopian migrant workers have been deported and Ethiopian officials have reported that as of the end of July, some 927 of these deportees were infected with the virus (although the true number is […]

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New York Times, “Ethiopian Workers are Forced to Return Home, Some with Coronavirus,” 1 August 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/01/world/africa/ethiopian-migrant-workers-coronavirus.html

04 August 2020 – Yemen

Although it has been devastated by ongoing civil war and famine, Yemen has continued to serve as an important migrant and refugee transit country–with many people often enduring torture, rape, and extortion, as well crossfire and airstrikes. In 2019, the IOM estimated that some 138,000 migrants departed from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in […]

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New York Times, “African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak,” 28 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/world/middleeast/coronavirus-yemen-african-migrants.html

03 August 2020 – Senegal

Senegal does not operate a dedicated immigration detention facility, according to information provided by the country’s Ombudsperson (Senegal’s Human Rights Committee, or SHRC). However, SHRC informed the GDP that a network of NGOs has launched a campaign to protect the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and any other displaced persons during the pandemic. The coalition–which […]

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A member of the Senegalese graffiti collective

02 August 2020 – Croatia

Visits by Croatia’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) are currently suspended, impairing access to data and information relating to immigration detention and removal measures. As such, when the GDP contacted the country’s Ombudsperson’s office requesting information pertaining to immigration detention practices during the pandemic, the office instead recommended contacting the country’s Interior Ministry to obtain relevant […]

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Border Violence Monitoring Network, “They Stamped on his Leg, Causing it to Break,” 14 July 2020, https://www.borderviolence.eu/violence-reports/july-14-2020-0000-near-vinkovci-croatia/

31 July 2020 – Ireland

In an email exchange with the Global Detention Project, UNHCR Ireland reported that to their knowledge, deportations and removals had been suspended in light of the Covid-19 crisis. The International Protection Office was still functioning throughout the pandemic and applications were being accepted. However, the number of new applicants had decreased because of fewer arrivals. […]

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Skellig Star residents, Locked Inside the Centre During Quarantine, (CNN,

30 July 2020 – Bahrain

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s request to complete our Covid-19 survey, Bahrain’s National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) provided a document detailing its role and actions during the coronavirus pandemic. The NIHR’s Committee on Detention & Facilities Visitation, convened on 28 May, affirmed the importance of continuing its visits to correction, rehabilitation, shelter and […]

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Sign Prohibiting Visitors from Entering a Migrant Camp in Bahrain, (Migrant-Rights,

30 July 2020 – Libya

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, an official from an international organisation, verified by the GDP, reported that no moratorium had been established in the country and that no immigration detainees had been released as a result of the pandemic (see 15 May Libya update on this platform). According to the official, authorities […]

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A Refugee's Bed in a Shared Room Where He Sleeps with 9 Other People in January 2020, (G. Piscitelli,

29 July 2020 – Germany

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the German National Agency for the Prevention of Torture, which acts as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), reported that the country had not implemented a moratorium on immigration detention orders after the onset of the pandemic; however, some detainees had been released as a consequence of the crisis, […]

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Two Refugees Standing at the Fence of the Suhl Refugee Reception Centre, (Ingmar Björn Nolting, DOCKS Collective,

28 July 2020 – Sierra Leone

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, an official from an international organisation, verified by the GDP, reported that in Sierra Leone, immigration detainees had not been released from detention and have not been tested for Covid-19. In addition, the source mentioned that the IOM assisted voluntary return and reintegration program had been suspended […]

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Security Forces Surrounding Pademba Prison in Freetown After a Riot Broke Out, (Cooper Inveen, Reuters,

28 July 2020 – Chile

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, a government official, verified by the GDP, reported that in Chile, immigration detention is solely used to conduct deportations of administrative or criminal detainees. Faced with border closures due to the Covid-19 crisis, the governmental source said that they were not aware of any deportations taking place […]

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Peruvian Migrants Camping Outside the Peruvian Embassy in Santiago, (Coordinadora Nacional de Inmigrantes de Chile,

27 July 2020 – Costa Rica

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Costa Rica’s immigration authority (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería) reported that during the Covid-19 crisis, immigration police (Dirección de la Policía Profesional de Migración) put in place distinct measures for non-citizens apprehended for administrative reasons. Instead of extending detention measures during the pandemic, non-citizens were required […]

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Centro de Aprehensión Temporal para Extranjeros en Condición Irregular, in San José, (

27 July 2020 – Montenegro

According to an international organisation official, verified by the GDP, Montenegro has not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and there have been no releases of immigration detainees. While immigration detainees are reportedly tested for Covid-19, deportations have not been halted. The official also reported that access to the country and to the […]

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Prison Staff Receive Protective and Hygiene Equipment from part of EU and CoE, (Council of Europe,

24 July 2020 – Norway

According to the Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsperson (Sivilombudsmannen), responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Norwegian authorities did not impose a moratorium on new immigration detention orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the National Police Immigration Service (NPIS) limited the number of immigration detention orders due to the reduced capacity at the police immigration […]

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Trandum Detention Centre in 2016, (NTB Scanpix,

24 July 2020 – Russian Federation

Since issuing a moratorium on new detention orders on 18 April (Decree of the President of Russia No.2745) (see 18 April update), Russia has reportedly not issued any new detention orders. This was confirmed by the Civic Assistance Committee and Memorial in a GDP survey on 21 July. The organisations also noted that some foreign […]

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Uzbek Nationals Waiting Outside Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow Hoping to Buy Tickets for an Evacuation Flight, (Sergey Ponomarev,

23 July 2020 – Greece

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, an official from an international organisation said that in Greece no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established but that new arrests and detention orders were reduced beginning from late March to mid-May. Since the end of May, the issuing of detention orders has gradually […]

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Refugees and Migrants Wearing Masks Wait to Get on a Bus After Their Arrival at the Port of Piraeus on 4 May 2020, (Petros Giannakouris, AP Photo,

23 July 2020 – Georgia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Georgia office reported that the country applied a full moratorium on new immigration detention orders during the state of emergency that lasted two months (21 March to 22 May) due to Covid-19. IOM Georgia stated that they were aware of an […]

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Georgian Servicemen Inspects Cars and People at an Entrance to the Town of Marneuli, some 40 km from the capital of Tbilisi, on 23 March, (Zurab Kurtsikidze, EFE,

23 July 2020 – Mauritania

The IOM Mauritania office has informed the GDP that Mauritanian authorities have “informally” placed a moratorium on new detention orders during the crisis; police forces in both Nouakchott and Nouadhibou have reported that they were not detaining migrants. With borders closed and inter-regional movement restrictions in place, deportations from the country have also ceased. Reportedly, […]

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “COVID-19, Communicating with Refugees in Mauritania,” 20 May 2020, https://bit.ly/3jr4UE6

22 July 2020 – Peru

Peru’s Ombudsman’s office (Defensoría del Pueblo), responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, stated that to their knowledge, no one had been detained for migration reasons during the pandemic. They also noted that there is no formal immigration detention estate in the country. After the declaration of the state of emergency in the country, […]

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Police and Armed Forces Standing in the Street, (Getty Images,

22 July 2020 – Bosnia and Herzegovina

According to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Institute of Human Rights (Ombudsman), responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the country did not establish a moratorium on new immigration detention orders, nor did it consider establishing one. The Ombudsman reported that no immigration detainees were released from detention, except those who were returned to the […]

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Sarajevo Immigration Detention Centre Entrance, (Google Maps,

21 July 2020 – Czech Republic

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman) of the Czech Republic reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established and that no such measure was under consideration. However, the Czech Ombudsman said that despite this, it seems that authorities have minimised the numbers of […]

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Outside View of a Part of the Bela-Jezova Detention Centre for Refugees, (Press TV,

21 July 2020 – Latvia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, acting as contact point for the European Migration Network (EMN), reported that Latvia had not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and that it was not considering the measure. No immigration detainees have been released and they […]

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Mucenieki Reception Centre, (Wikimapia,

20 July 2020 – Romania

Romania’s National Preventive Mechanism, the People’s Advocate, requested information from the Interior Ministry’s General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI) to provide answers to the Global Detention Projet’s Covid-19 survey. Based on information it received from the IGI, the People’s Advocate reported that during the state of emergency, the right of persons to request international protection was […]

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Migrants and Refugees in the Courtyard of Timisoara ETC, (UNHCR,

20 July 2020 – Luxembourg

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Luxembourg’s European Migration Network (EMN) contact point, the University of Luxembourg, reported that a moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established, mainly as returns were no longer possible. EMN Luxembourg said that there had not been any cases of Covid-19 within the Findel Detention Centre […]

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Findel Immigration Detention Centre (Centre de Rétention de Findel), (Le Quotidien,

19 July 2020 – France

France’s contact point for the European Migration Network (EMN), the Direction Générale des Étrangers en France (DGEF), has informed the Global Detention Project that it is not able to answer our Covid-19 survey questions. The GDP had initially written to the DGEF/EMN on 13 May 2020, requesting information on immigration detention and measures taken by […]

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European Migration Network Logo, (EMN,

17 July 2020 – Sweden

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), which also acts as the country’s European Migration Network contact, reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established in response to the Covid-19 crisis and that such a measure was not being considered. In addition, the Migration Board […]

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A Migration Agency Office in Sweden, (Susanne Lindholm, TT,

17 July 2020 – Spain

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Permanent Observatory for Immigration, part of the Ministry of Labour and Immigration, and acting as European Migration Network (EMN) contact, reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders was established, but that immigration detention is no longer justifiable in law as there are no reasonable […]

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Permanent Observatory for Immigration Logo, (OPI,

17 July 2020 – Germany

Observers have repeatedly raised concerns during the pandemic regarding conditions inside reception facilities in Germany, with several centres witnessing Covid-19 outbreaks and others subjecting refugees and asylum seekers to dangerous living conditions (see 10 June update). Recently, volunteers, social workers, and NGOs have warned of the dire living conditions experienced by non-nationals in Munich’s network […]

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Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Quälende Quarantäne,” 14 July 2020, https://bit.ly/30ntg9j

16 July 2020 – France

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the prison ombudsman, Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté or CGLPL, which also acts as the country’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM)), reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established. They also indicated that no legislation or regulation had been adopted to […]

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Logo of the Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté, (Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté, accessed on 16 July, https://www.cglpl.fr/en/).

16 July 2020 – Israel

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, large numbers of Palestinians travelled to work in Israel on a daily or weekly basis. However, due to fears that such travel could further spread the virus, Israel’s emergency regulations required Palestinian workers to remain in the country and prevented them from returning to the West Bank. (Authorities issued stay […]

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Palestinian Labourers Line Up to Enter Israel through the Mitar Checkpoint in the Occupied West Bank City of Hebron, (H. Bader, AFP,

16 July 2020 – Libya

UNHCR has reported that more than 2,300 remain confined in centres operated by the UN-backed Government of National Accord. Conditions remain a critical concern, with many detainees facing violence and abuse, food shortages, lack of sanitary facilities, and severe overcrowding. Reportedly, the agency has called for an “orderly release” for all those detained and for […]

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Libyan Police Forces Inspecting Some 250 Detained Migrants at the Abu Salim Detention Centre in Gasr Garabulli, (EPA,

16 July 2020 – Romania

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office in Bucharest, responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, Romania has not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders nor is it considering one. In addition, no immigration detainees have been released as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and they are not being […]

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Refugees and Asylum Seekers Undertaking Activities in the Timisoara ETC Courtyard, (UNHCR,

16 July 2020 – Tunisia

On 16 July, in what observers in Tunisia have called an “unprecedented decision,” the Tunisian administrative court suspended the detention of 22 migrants detained arbitrarily at the El Ouardia detention centre. The decision comes after reports of hunger strikes at El Ouardia and calls from civil society organisations for authorities to clarify the legal basis […]

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Migrants Inside a Room in the El Ouardia Immigration Detention Centre, (R. Cherif,

15 July 2020 – United Kingdom

Although the UK did not issue a moratorium on new detention orders at the height of the pandemic, the Home Office ceased issuing new detention orders for people who, under normal circumstances, would face removal to one of 49 specified countries. This was confirmed in a GDP Covid-19 survey completed by a UK government official […]

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Immigration Removal Centres Sign, (E. Hayward,

15 July 2020 – Armenia

On 15 July, the GDP received a response to our Covid-19 survey concerning Armenia from a representative of an international organisation who wished to remain anonymous. The official reported that the Armenian government had not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and was not considering one. The official indicated that Armenia does not […]

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Police Officer Standing Next to a Health Worker Taking a Person's Temperature, (Bloomberg,

13 July 2020 – Colombia

According to the Colombian Ministry of Health, as of 23 June, Colombia had 73,572 cases of Covid-19 and 2,404 deaths related to the disease. As reported by CNN, Venezuelan migrant workers, who left the country when its economy collapsed, are now returning as Covid-19 cases surge across Latin America. The Colombia-Venezuela border crossing has been […]

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Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia Trying to Reach the Border to Return to their Country, (Stefano Pozzebon, “Venezuelan Migrants Fleeing Covid-19 Get Stuck at Border,” CNN, accessed on 14 July 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2020/07/13/venezuela-migrants-covid19-stuck-border-colombia-pozzebon-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/coronavirus-intl/)

10 July 2020 – Bangladesh

On 9 July 2020, Human Rights Watch urged Bangladeshi authorities to immediately move more than 300 Rohingya refugees, including 33 children, from the silt island of Bhasan Char to the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps to join their families. Despite inviting UNHCR and other UN agencies to Bhasan Char island, the Bangladesh government is yet to […]

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An Aerial View of the Bhasan Char Refugee Island Camp, (M. Ahmed & R. Beings,

10 July 2020 – Paraguay

By 9 July, Paraguay had recorded 2,554 cases of Covid-19 and 20 deaths. The country has taken specific measures concerning non-citizens. The Paraguayan migration authority (Dirección General de Migraciones) has prolonged the validity of permits that expired after 13 March 2020. This measure affects people whose temporary residence permits expired after 13 March; non-citizens who […]

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Border Post Between Brazil and Paraguay Reinforced With Tires Following the Interception of 45 Migrants Crossing Irregularly, (Gentileza,

09 July 2020 – Slovenia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Slovenian Human Rights Ombudsman reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established by Slovenia and that no such measure was under consideration. Contrary to information published by ECRE (see 15 May Slovenia update on this platform), stating that immigration detainees had been […]

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Ljubljana Asylum Centre Seen from Above, (Ergyn Zjeci, RTV SLO,

08 July 2020 – Poland

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman’s office) contacted the Polish Border Guard to obtain information concerning Covid-19 measures for migrants and refugees. The commissioner said that the Polish Border Guard had informed them that on 17 March, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard ordered the […]

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Biala Podlaska Guarded Centre (No Borders Group Warsaw, accessed on 8 July 2020, https://migracja.noblogs.org/obozy-strzezone-detention-camps/biala-podlaska/english/)

07 July 2020 – Uganda

Often praised for having an open-door policy for refugees, Uganda closed its borders in March, leaving thousands of refugees and asylum seekers stranded and unable to enter the country (see 6 April update). Since May, approximately 10,000 refugees have been camped out on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border, having fled escalating violence in eastern […]

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An Asylum Seeker with her Children and Others, Sitting After Undergoing a Health Screening Near the Border Crossing in Zombo, Uganda, (Rocco Nuri, UNHCR,

06 July 2020 – Sweden

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman’s office reported that Sweden had not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders and that no such measure was under consideration. The Ombudsman’s office indicated that the Swedish police released immigration detainees in cases where expulsion could not be executed in the […]

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Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman Office logo, (Ombudsman website, https://www.jo.se/en/)

05 July 2020 – Estonia

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, a governmental actor, verified by the GDP, reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established due to the pandemic and that no such measure was under consideration. According to the source, the Estonian Police and Border Guard (PBGB) did not release any immigration […]

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Rae Detention Centre, (Global Detention Project,

04 July 2020 – Greece

Despite repeated criticisms of its continued lockdown of refugee and migrant camps (see 18 June update), Greece recently announced its fifth extension of these lockdown measures. As of 4 July, camps are to be quarantined until 19 July, with migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers continuing to face movement restrictions. According to the country’s migration ministry, […]

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Global Detention Project,

03 July 2020 – Austria

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Aus