The report, entitled "The use of detention and alternatives to detention in the context of immigration policies" was prepared on the basis of National Contributions from 26 European Migration Networks National Contact Points.
According to the report, the most common grounds for detention are "risk of absconding"; "establishing identity of the third-country national" followed by "threat to national security and public order"; "non compliance with the alternatives to detention"; "presenting destroyed or forged documents" and "reasonable grounds to believe that the person will commit an offence".
The use of immigration detention facilities is a common practice across all Member States, with the exception of Ireland where third-country nationals are detained in prisons.
Concerning the detention of vulnerable people, including unaccompanied minors, accompanied minors and families with children, pregnant women and victims of trafficking in human beings and torture, it is either explicitly prohibited or possible only in exceptional circumstances in the vast majority of Member States.
As for the alternatives to detention, 24 out of the 26 Member States have developed alternatives such as: reporting obligations; residence requirements; the obligation to surrender identity or a travel document; release on bail; electronic monitoring; provision of a guarantor; and release to a care worker and under a care plan. However, community management programmes, which enable immigrants to live independently in the community under the supervision and care of a case manager, are not available in any of the 26 Member States participating in the study.
All Member States provide access to free legal advice to persons accommodated in detention facilities, except in Hungary where legal aid is reported to be at the detainee's expense. Legal advice is partially free in Luxembourg and Germany. Moreover, in Estonia and Malta, legal advice is provided solely for the purposes of an appeal against the return decision.
Available statistics collected for the period 2009-2013 show that the total of third-country nationals in detention has decreased by some 5% per annum. These figures are based on statistics provided by 24 Member States.
Moreover, in 2013, France, Austria, Belgium and Sweden were the countries where the largest number of third-country nationals were provided with an alternative to detention.
The average length of detention in 2013 for 17 out of the 26 Member States participating in the study was around 40 days. The highest average detention period in 2013 was recorded in Malta (180 days) while the lowest average number of days was observed in Sweden (5 days).
The report draws the following conclusions:
- The impact of detention and alternatives to detention on the ability of states to reach and execute prompt and fair return decisions “may be rather insignificant".
- Placing persons in an alternative to detention is less costly than placing them in a detention centre;
- The fundamental rights of persons in detention are at greater risk than they are for persons placed in alternatives to detention; and
- The risk of absconding could be greater in case of alternatives to detention, while as a whole this risk is very low or non-existent in the case of detention.
Posted by Flavie Fuentes