The Dutch government has stated that they will soften their immigration detention system, days after a National Symposium on Alternatives to Detention (ATD) was held there (see below).

It has been five years since the EU Returns Directive stipulated that member states should resort to detention only when “other sufficient but less coercive measures” have been used. In several “Contact Committee” meetings held on the Returns Directive, the European Commission has urged member states to see ATD as a “win-win scenario” for states as well as for migrants.

However, in light of the European Union’s ‘Asylum Package’ recently being finalised, it is apparent that there remains a significant gap between the policy and practical implementation of ATD throughout the region.

Reports have consistently shown that real examples of ATD are thin on the ground in Europe, and policy makers continue to think that alternative measures require a high level of infrastructure and funding.

The IDC sees Europe as a world leader currently given that it is the only region in the world where ATD is stipulated in law. We would urge all member states to continue to explore and develop ATD nationally in line with the transposition of EU legislation and to ensure that alternatives remain not only in legislation but are also used in practice.

While in Europe, IDC’s Europe Regional Coordinator, Katherine Wright met with UNHCR’s Europe Bureau staff in both Geneva & Brussels as well as many regional and national members in Finland, Brussels and Malta. Discussions focused on IDC’s work in the region and how collaboration can be strengthened into the future.