Mapping as a means to denounce the detention of migrants in Europe and beyond

393. This is the number of closed camps detaining migrants that appear on the website launched in December 2013. These camps have all been in use between 2011 and 2013, and are located in European Union (EU) Member States, EU candidate countries, those covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and those collaborating in the implementation of European migration policy.

These figures only reflect detention in close camps [1] - i.e. sites where migrants are totally deprived of liberty. These places are emblematic of the numerous human rights violations migrants are facing.

For over a decade, Migreurop has engaged in the collection of information to document this phenomenon. The network uses especially maps to cast light on this complex and diverse reality, to raise awareness on these questions and reach the widest audience possible. The “Encampment Map”, whose fifth version was published in 2012, is a useful tool to illustrate the development, both in nature and in numbers, of detention sites for migrants.

Beyond the collection and dissemination of information, Migreurop aims at mobilising all those who oppose mechanisms that result in the detention and the removal of migrants and defend migrants fundamental rights.

The Open Access Now campaign, launched in 2011 to call for unconditional access to immigration detention centres for civil society members and journalists, has helped emphasising and reminding the opacity that keeps surrounding these detention sites: obstacles faced by NGOs, researchers, families and friends of migrants, citizens to access information on these places, difficulty to contact detainees, obstruction to supportive actions and to certain awareness and advocacy campaigns on these matters.

To cope with this opacity, the Migreurop network has decided to set up a database and a “Dynamic mapping of the detention of migrants”. This collaborative project aims at facilitating access to information on immigration detention and its consequences on the life and the rights of migrants. This ambitious initiative was presented publicly on 6 December 2013 in the framework of the international meeting entitled “Detention of migrants in Europe and beyond: what perspective?” held in Paris by Migreurop and the Observatory on the Detention of Migrants (Observatoire de l’Enfermement des Etrangers – OEE, France).

It is hopeful that contributions will be many to feed in this initiative against the “Europe of camps”.As a reminder, Migreurop demands that governments of EU member states and its neighboring countries to stop resorting to detention as a tool for controlling migration flows, and calls for civil society to oppose the system of detention of migrants. [2]

For more information on how to contribute to the projet, please visit the « Contribute ! » page of the website and/or write to