ENNHRI comments on Council of Europe’s draft ‘Practical Guidance on Alternatives to Immigration Detention’

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ENNHRI provided input on a timely new draft of the Practical Guidance on alternatives to immigration detention. ENNHRI’s Asylum and Migration (A&M) Working Group suggested amendments to ensure compliance with human rights standards and highlighted the role of NHRIs in this area.

The Council of Europe’s Drafting Group on Migration and Human Rights (CDDH-MIG) presented a revised draft of the Practical Guidance on alternatives to immigration detention and announced the opening of a broad consultation with key stakeholders and civil society organisations.

ENNHRI’s A&M Working Group believes that the Guidance is a very timely publication given the worrying trends of increased detention of migrants throughout Europe. The A&M Working Group stressed that the use of administrative detention of migrants should always be a measure of last resort and alternatives to it should be explored and implemented prior to resorting to detention.

In its submission, the A&M Working Group reiterates its views on alternatives to detention, suggests amendments to the current draft Guidance and highlights the role of NHRIs in this area. Among the recommendations, the A&M Working Group made suggestions regarding the following issues:

  • Alternatives to detention contained within the Guidance must comply with regional and international human rights standards. Unlawful deprivation of liberty through other means cannot be seen as an “alternative to detention”.
  • The A&M Working Group raises strong concerns regarding the inclusion of “electronic monitoring” as an alternative to detention. It strongly advocates against including this measure as an alternative to detention, since it could inadvertently promote a practice in contravention of international standards.
  • The special needs of persons in a vulnerable situation must be taken into account when considering alternatives. Gender-specific considerations could be further highlighted in the Practical Guidance, and more attention should be paid to the particular needs of asylum applicants and stateless persons.
  • Children should never be placed in detention. States have a duty to consider alternatives to detention for children and their family, in order to respect the best interests of the child.
  • The inclusion of NHRIs in the Practical Guidance is a welcomed step, but further mainstreaming of their role in relation to alternatives to immigration detention could lead to better implementation and monitoring of the use of alternatives in practice.

» Read the full Submission

ENNHRI’s Asylum and Migration Working Group

ENNHRI’s work on migration is carried out through the Asylum and Migration Working Group. This group comprises 25 NHRIs from wider Europe. Its members exchange knowledge and experience in order to strengthen regional and international cooperation in the field of asylum and migration and facilitate engagement with regional mechanisms on asylum and migration issues. The Working Group also supports members in addressing contemporary challenges in asylum and migration and provides a forum for members to collaborate to provide a stronger regional voice to impact on policy and legislation.