First regional Alternatives to Detention Roundtable in Brussels, November 2011

The IDC this week presented to governments and civil society from across Western Europe and Malta, as well as to the Council of Europe at the first regional Alternatives to Detention Roundtable organized by UNHCR in Brussels.

This roundtable followed the global roundtable on alternatives to detention which took place in Geneva in May, and was aimed at shifting the dialogue on immigration detention in Western Europe as well as encouraging the development and implementation of alternatives.

The IDC’s Community Assessment and Placement model was a central feature of discussions as a way for States to analyse their current detention system and explore steps to implement alternatives. The Council of Europe and others raised the IDC research as a viable way forward for the region.

A number of government’s presented their work on alternatives, including Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, with discussion on how to improve programs to ensure they are not based on enforcement and removal models, but on early intervention, engagement, building trust and exploring all options for individuals awaiting a final decision in their case.

It is hoped that this regional roundtable will lead to more concrete national discussions and further roundtables on implementation of alternatives, with opportunities identified in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

The IDC was joined by IDC members including Detention Action, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe, Amnesty International, France Terre d’ Asile, CIRÉ, Refugee Action and European Council on Refugees & Exiles (ECRE), in exploring ways forward, which included a discussion on organizing a European regional immigration detention workshop with members and key stakeholders to identify priorities and strategies for the region.