Detention of foreigners: the first effects of the “return” directive

press release

"Less than three months after being adopted by the European parliament, the return directive, which implements systematic migrants detention, provisions decided by European Member States are part of this same logic of migrants detention and criminalization ."

In Italy, where for years a “state of emergency” has been decreed to every occasion under the pretext of a threat of invasion, the cabinet has just decided to double the number of detention centres which hold foreigners awaiting deportation. Since July, the military has joined the police and the gendarmerie (national guard) in these IDCs (identification and deportation centres- ex TPCs temporary permanence centres sic), where associations have only very limited access. The Minister of the Interior, Maroni, has also announced the government’s intention to create secure centres to incarcerate asylum seekers, and to increase the maximum length of detention to 18 months, from its current limit of 60 days.

The lengthening of the permitted detention period is also on the agenda in Spain, where accounts denouncing police brutality are recurrent, while associations are refused the right of access to detention centres for foreigners which they have long been seeking.

In France, associations denounce figures policy’ consequences, led by the French government in terms of expulsions, which wants to stop migrant rights defence and testimony’ missions,managed, until now, by Cimade in the detention centres. Reducing this mission to an information mission, changing it to a competitive market opened to service providers which have to comply with neutrality and confidentiality principles, the French government stops, de facto, the possibility of a right to access to civil society in those closed centres.

Warnings from the many voices, which cried out against the return directive, were well-founded. In the name of the struggle against clandestine immigration and under the pretext of responding to public opinion, detention is being set up as a system, in line with the formidable European harmonization of the confinement of migrants. If we do not act, the elongation of holding periods, dehumanisation and opaqueness will become standard in all places of administrative internment for foreigners.

Migrant camps are the epicentre of multiple infringements of fundamental rights. We must not allow them to hide behind a wall of silence. Associations and civil society have a right to know what goes on there.

As Europe strengthens its controls and detention provisions, Migreurop network’ associations are launching a campaign to require a right of access to detention places in order to:

- provide informations on reality and migrants detention conditions in closed places known

 play parts act in order to warn and defend as an alert but also in the detained migrants’ defence

- testimony on detention consequences and on situations conducting to migrants rights’ violations.

14th of October 2008

See also Migreurop appeal for a right to access in detention places