Summer in Europe this year has brought with it ongoing concerns about the ill-treatment of asylum seekers & irregular migrants throughout the region, not least in Russia where hundreds of irregular migrants were rounded up and detained in camps not suited for such large numbers nor with suitable conditions.

There continues to be serious concerns about the conditions in detention facilities in Greece with a riot occurring at the Amygdaleza detention centre outside of Athens and a number of suicide deaths also reported. Many individuals from the Middle East and Northern Africa have lost their lives at sea during the summer months in an attempt to reach mainland Europe.

Malta was also heavily criticized this month when the government attempted to return about 45 Somali migrants to Libya, with fears of possible refoulement.  Maltese NGOs were quick to act and the European Court of Human Rights handed the Maltese government a Rule 39 interim order blocking the return. Maltese officials were also criticized when they refused entry to Maltese waters of a tanker, MV Salamis, carrying 102 migrants rescued off the Libyan coast. Italy eventually accepted the migrants.

On a positive note, the European Court of Justice issued an important ruling in the case of MA & Others v UK (C-648/11) on the position of unaccompanied children subject to the Dublin II Regulation. This ruling means that unaccompanied children who claim asylum in a Member State cannot be removed to another State pursuant to the Dublin Regulation and is therefore an extremely important development in the region. It will hopefully also lessen the numbers of unaccompanied minors being detained as Dublin cases in Europe.

During September the IDC has been invited to attend two regional meetings in Europe as non-EU experts. Grant Mitchell, IDC Director will be taking part and presenting the IDC’s research on child immigration detention and alternatives to detention respectively. The first meeting is a meeting of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In particular, the IDC is taking part on a hearing on immigration detention of children. The second meeting is a Contact Committee Meeting for the Reception Conditions Directive, the first meeting for this Directive, and looking at providing EU member states with guidance as to the practical implementation of alternatives to detention in the European context through examples from around the world.

The IDC urges all EU member states (as well as wider Europe) to ensure that individuals requesting international protection are afforded this right in reaching safety. We also urge all states to ensure that refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants are treated with dignity and respect throughout all migration-related processes.

Immigration detention should only ever be used as a last resort. Alternatives to detention are cheaper, more effective and more humane and can and should be implemented across the European region, particularly at this time when transposition of the EU Asylum Package calls for ATD to be implemented in national legislation over the coming two years.

Member news
aditus Foundation: Annual Report 2012 now available online (aditus)
aditus/JRS Malta: Positive result at the European Court of Human Rights (CJ)
Amnesty International: New report- Enter at Your Peril, Lives Put At Risk At the Gate of Europe (AI Europe)
Detention Action’s (UK) Director, Jerome Phelps: Farewell, Racist Van (Huff Post UK)
European Council on Refugees and Exiles: Upcoming Annual General Conference, October 2013 (ECRE)
Jesuit Refugee Service/Pueblos Unidos Spain: New report: Trapped Behind Bars (JRS/Pueblos Unidos)
Human Rights Watch: Russia: Mass Detention of Migrants, Racial Profiling, Arbitrary Detention, Harsh Detention Conditions (HRW)

More news from the region
Regional: EU Fundamental Rights Agency: New FRA Annual Report (FRA) EU: Best Interests of the Child and the Dublin Regulation (European Law Blog) Bulgaria: Peak of summer brings waves of would-be illegal immigrants to Bulgaria’s borders (IBNA) Germany: Asylum seekers become an election issue in Germany (Euronews) Greece: Corinth: Afghan detainee at immigration centre falls 5 metres, hospitalised (Skai) Illegal immigrants riot against extended stay in Greek detention centre (Guardian) Mohammad Hassan, the Afghan refugee detained for 11 months loses battle for life (Left Gr), Xenios Zeus fills detention centers (GR) Italy: Italy agreed to take migrants ‘for humanitarian reasons’ (Times of Malta) Malta: Inside detention centres for irregular migrants (Independent) The Maltese dream that’s more a migrants nightmare (Independent UK) Migrants pushbacks- ‘No final decision was taken’ Malta tells Strasbourg court (MT) Children’s Commissioner remarks on pushback policy; children in detention (Independent) Norway: Norway child asylum deportation policy measure suspended (Foreigner) Russia: Russia steps up raids against migrants (NYT) Concerns over Moscow camp for migrants (CRIN) Switzerland: Swiss policies segregating asylum seekers draw outrage (BBC) Swiss town puts curbs on asylum seekers  (Al Jazeera) Opening a shelter for asylum seekers in Bremgarten ( UK: Age-disputed young people continue to be detained (CYPN) Asylum seeker awarded wrongful detention compensation (BBC) Ukraine: Refugees seek haven in Ukraine- find misery (AP)