In recent years, detention has become an increasingly prominent EU tool to “manage migration flows´´. Whilst often portrayed as a necessary step to prevent absconding, the negative impact of detention on migrant well-being raises clear concerns. Under this sub-fund, EPIM supports civil society organisations who work to ensure that, in policy and practice, the use of detention is reduced to when it is legitimate, proportionate and necessary and, based on individual assessment, as an exceptional measure of last resort.
A pilot phase of the sub-fund on immigration detention was carried out in 2015 and 2016, supporting civil society projects in Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece. In 2017-2019, the sub-fund is supporting projects which emphasise and strengthen the link between national and sub-regional/Pan-European work, addressing two challenges in particular:
1. The blurred boundary between detention and reception and increased control and punishment in European migration and asylum policy.
Reception and detention of asylum seekers are conceptually distinct in principle, yet the line between accommodation and confinement often becomes difficult to draw in practice. Continued examinations of these emerging issues by civil society organisations is needed to ensure necessary safeguards are applied in these ambiguous areas. EPIM supports the following civil society projects under this strand:
- Boundaries of Liberty, led by the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
- The Red Line Project, led by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC)
- Challenging Deprivation of Liberty and Externalisation, led by Migreurop
- The lack of alternative measures to detention and the marginalisation of undocumented migrants or migrants without protection status.
In spite of the growing reliance on detention of migrants, alternatives based on quality one-to-one case management can provide a viable route to “managing migration flows´´ without relying on confinement. Whilst alternative models to detention have the potential to stabilise individuals in the community and to support them in exploring all options for case resolution (including regularisation), a key barrier to their implementation is that governments lack sufficient practical examples applicable to their own context. EPIM supports the following civil society projects under this strand:
- From theory to practice: A Network of Alternative to Detention (ATD) Implementers in Europe, led by the International Detention Coalition (IDC) together with Detention Action and PICUM
- Protecting migrants with precarious status: decreasing the use of detention and applying community-based alternatives, led by the Center for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights
- Pilot project on the implementation of alternative measures: the Revised Community Assessment and Placement model in Cyprus, led by the Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC)
- No Detention Necessary, led by Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP)