Alternatives to detention
First and foremost, we need a fundamental shift away from the enforcement approach prevalent in Europe today that relies heavily on detention, towards one more focused dignity, respect and empowerment. States must recognise that people are more likely to cooperate with immigration systems if they can live in their communities, access their fundamental rights, and enjoy a basic and dignified standard of life. Detention is costly, harmful and ineffective, and community based alternatives have been proven to lead to more effective case resolution.
Alternatives to detention that are tailored to individuals, provide case management, ensure basic needs can be met, and only apply restrictive conditions where absolutely necessary, are less costly, more humane and have been proven to be highly effective.
- Immigration authorities should proactively consider and implement a range of appropriate community based alternatives to detention in line with international best practice.
- Immigration authorities must improve their guidance for those making decisions to detain to ensure that all decisions are proportionate, reasonable, necessary, and in particular, that alternatives have been fully considered and implemented as a priority.
- States must guarantee the right to appeal to an independent authority and provide a clear role for the judiciary in scrutinising the lawfulness of decisions to detain.
- Decision makers must consider the specific circumstances facing stateless persons and those at risk of statelessness when determining removal procedures and making decisions to detain.
“Why did they hold me for seven years and gave me nothing?”Anton is a stateless person from the former USSR. He was held in immigration detention in Bulgaria for seven years. Over the years, he was told he would be deported, but he was never given any details about what the authorities were doing to affect his deportation. The only alternative to detention envisaged in Bulgarian law is daily reporting at a police station, but only those with a registered address in Bulgaria are eligible, which Anton did not have. He was finally released following an intervention by the Council of Europe and now lives undocumented in Bulgaria.