The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe: Report, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population



11 January 2010

Rapporteur: Mrs Ana Catarina MENDON=C7A, Portugal, Socialist Group


The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Council of Europe member states has increased substantially in recent years.

The legal framework governing detention is frequently misunderstood. Furthermore, the automatic use of detention gives rise to a long list of serious problems including that, too frequently, detention is used as the option of first resort and not last resort. Alternatives to detention are too infrequently used. It is also the case that conditions and safeguards afforded to immigration detainees, who have committed no crime, are often worse than those in respect of prisoners in criminal custody.

The report seeks to clarify 10 guiding principles on the legality of detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants.

The report puts forward, as a starting point, 15 European rules governing minimum standards of conditions in detention centres for migrants and asylum seekers which should be guaranteed by member states and adopted by the Committee of Ministers as European rules.

Finally, the report examines which alternatives to detention are currently being used and whether or not they are effective and encourages member states to use alternatives to detention in preference to detention.