Luxembourg: Issues Related to Immigration Detention
Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child
82nd Pre-Sessional Working Group, February 2019
Issues concerning immigration detention
• New legal provisions double the maximum length of immigration detention to 90 days and allow for the re-detention of people shortly after being released from a previous stay in detention.
• The new provisions fail to prohibit the detention of accompanied children, contrary to recommendations from national and international human rights bodies.
• A new asylum law adopted in 2018 lacks important safeguards for people seeking protection, which observers fear could lead to widespread detention of asylum seekers.
• Detention orders frequently lack individualised assessments and observers argue that detention measures are not applied as a last resort.
• Detainees are required to pay for their detention.
• The country places high numbers of families with children in detention.
• There are no well-developed mechanisms for identifying victims of violence and medical checks are not provided when entering detention.
“Social media at times will convince people to come to Europe, because of the things people put on Facebook—the lifestyle and so on. Maybe it does that. But I would never tell people to come through Libya, to make this journey.”
• Since July 2013, the jurisdiction of Egypt’s military has further expanded and military officers may arrest non-citizens for immigration reasons, placing them before military tribunals that do not meet international fair trial standards.
• Detention facilities—which include police stations, border guard stations, and prisons—are often overcrowded and lack basic detention conditions.
Traditionally, Sweden has been lauded for having more humane detention practices than its Scandinavian neighbours, including Norway and Denmark. Yet, a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications in 2015 (more than 160,000) triggered a shift in both policy and public discourse. In January 2016, the Swedish government introduced new border controls, boosted police forces, and revealed plans to deport up to 80,000 non-citizens who do not qualify for refugee status.
The Global Detention Project (GDP) welcomes the opportunity to provide information for consideration of the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Niger (CRC/C/NER/3-5) to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) dated 8 November 2017. The GDP is an independent research centre based in Geneva that investigates immigration-related detention. As per the GDP’s mandate, this submission focuses on the State Party’s laws and practices on issues related to detention for migration-related reasons.
From the President and Executive Director
Although Canada has experienced increasing immigration pressures, including receiving in 2017 the highest number of asylum claims in its history, the country has not witnessed the same acrimonious public debate over immigration seen elsewhere. It has adopted important reforms, including the introduction of a National Immigration Detention Framework aimed at improving detention conditions and reducing the use of prisons for immigration reasons.
Denmark has pursued increasingly restrictive immigration and asylum policies. During the past three years, the country has adopted some 70 immigration-related amendments aimed at intensifying restrictions, dramatically cut back its asylum recognition rate, and called for detaining as many failed refugees as possible. Observers have repeatedly criticised the penitentiary-like conditions of Denmark’s main immigration detention centre as well as inadequate efforts to identify victims of torture, who can be subject to detention.
A migrant essential or a criminal marketplace? Since the “refugee crisis” exploded across the international media and political landscapes, the role of social media has been repeatedly dissected, argued over, and—more often than not—misunderstood. Although officials and politicians often present new digital platforms as security threats that enable traffickers and illicit enterprises, these technologies also have played a critically important role in aiding refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in need.
• Grounds for detention in immigration law appear to be formulated in a nonexhaustive way, which is inconsistent with the principle of lawfulness and the requirement of legal certainty;
• The law provides an expansive list of situations that can lead to a risk of absconding determination, including irregular entry or stay;
• The broad basis for finding a risk of absconding leads to detention being applied systematically rather exceptionally, thus “less coercive measures” are rarely used;
Although Lebanon does not consider itself a country of asylum, it has the world’s highest per-capita concentration of refugees, most of whom have fled conflict in neighbouring Syria. Refugees are increasingly treated as a security threat and economic burden, and they have found themselves under growing surveillance and restrictions. The country is also home to a large number of migrant domestic workers from countries like the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Kenya, who are subject to the kafala system and are particularly vulnerable to detention.
While asylum applications are decreasing in Norway, the number of deportations is rising. Since 2012, when amendments to the Immigration Act were introduced extending the list of grounds for detention, detention has increasingly been used in order to make return policies more efficient. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of people placed in detention nearly doubled. Norway also continues to operate its sole detention centre in a militarised fashion.
As the main European destination for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean by boat, Italy confronts considerable migration challenges. It has responded by ramping up its domestic detention system, implementing the controversial “hotspot” approach to process maritime arrivals, boosting interdiction efforts, and adopting new legal measures that restrict avenues for asylum. The country has also been instrumental in supporting European Union programmes equipping and training the Libyan coastguard to intercept trafficking boats.
Greece is an important entry point to the European Union (EU) for migrants and asylum seekers. Since 2008, when Spain and Italy began effectively blocking routes into their countries, the numbers of arrivals in Greece have increased substantially.1 With support—and pressure—from its EU partners, Greece has responded to this situation by adopting a passel of controversial immigration control measures, including ramping up its detention operations, leading to a growing human rights crisis in Greece and Europe.
Austria has sharply increased the number of people it places in immigration detention after years of declining detainee populations. While it continues the controversial practice of placing immigration detainees in “Police Detention Centres,” the country opened a new dedicated immigration detention centre in 2014, which is partly operated by the controversial multinational security company G4S. The country has also announced plans to significantly boost removals, focusing mainly on people from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite having only a very small number of unauthorized entries, Latvia has described the situation at its borders with Russia and Belarus as “alarming.” Its law provides for an extended period of detention without court order, allows for the detention of children over the age of 14, and lacks provisions ensuring that the detention of asylum seekers is used only as a last resort.