New Research Launch at the UN Human Rights Council


Geneva, Switzerland: The IDC launched its latest research at the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, hosted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Sweden.

With human migration reaching unprecedented levels, many States are struggling to respond to new refugee, asylum-seeker and migrant arrivals. Current crises highlight the need for alternative approaches that respect fundamental right to liberty, security, and human dignity, while still ensuring that States can responsibly govern their borders.

Over the past five years, the IDC has undertaken a program of research to identify and describe a number of positive alternatives to immigration detention (‘alternatives’) that respect fundamental rights, are less expensive and are equally or more effective than traditional border controls.

Alternatives are any law, policy or practice by which people are able to reside in the community, without being detained for migration-related reasons.

This research, entitled There are alternatives, provides readers with the guidance needed to successfully avoid unnecessary detention and to ensure community options are as effective as possible.

During the event the importance of research such as There are alternatives, which intends to provide guidance for those in positions to prevent the use of unnecessary detention, was highlighted, along with the need for increased transparency and accountability in immigration detention.

The launch was opened Ms. Pia Oberoi, Advisor on Migration and Human Rights OHCHR with IDC Director Grant Mitchell, and panel presentations from:

  • Mads Andenas, Former Chair United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • Robyn Sampson, Research Fellow Swinburne University of Technology
  • E. Ms. Veronika Bard, Ambassador Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations in Geneva
  • Jerome Phelps, Director Detention Action

Director of the IDC, Mr. Grant Mitchell, has spent years meeting with governments and understanding the challenges they face when overseeing migration. “Make no mistake” he said, “immigration detention does not solve the many and varied challenges of migration. This research shows that there are alternatives, which are more affordable, effective and humane.”

Lead author of the research, Dr. Robyn Sampson, Research Fellow Swinburne University of Technology, discussed the key findings of the report, with over 250 examples of alternatives from over 60 countries covered. The cast array of alternatives available were highlighted, including a presumption of liberty in law in Argentina, the prohibition of detention of vulnerable individuals in China and Panama, and the use of screening and assessment tools to inform placement decisions in the United States and Zambia.

“This research allowed us to identify key strategies for successful alternatives” said Dr. Sampson. The research included countries that experience large numbers of migrants in the face of small resources. “Engagement rather than enforcement isa recurring theme” said Dr. Sampson, “stabilising vulnerable populations and increasing real opportunities for resolution is key to establishing trust and compliance within a system.”

Read the publication.

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