International Coalition on the Detention of Coalition on Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants

Media Release


Wednesday December 10th, 2008, International Human Rights Day

Embargo until December 8th.


A call to uphold the human rights of detainees

 Countries around the world must uphold the human rights of the estimated 1 million people held in immigration detention around the world and work to develop community-based alternatives,  the International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants (IDC) said today, International Human Rights Day.

 The IDC call comes following the findings of their recent global survey of 21 countries which found an increase in the use of detention internationally for migration purposes with detainees often denied their basic rights, in conditions below international standards.

 The survey listed detention concerns in the following regions: Asia Pacific; Canada; Central America; Western Europe; Eastern and Central Europe; South America; Middle East and North Africa; Eastern and Western Africa; Southern Africa; United States.

 IDC Director Grant Mitchell said the survey found that there was a high level of risk of sexual and physical violence for women held in detention and the impact on physical and mental health was of particular concern for children and other vulnerable individuals. There have also been recent reports that the global economic downturn has lead to increases in the numbers of people detained and deported around the world.

 “The increasing use of detention for people fleeing their countries for various reasons is of great concern,” Mr Mitchell said.

 There are alarming incidents of gross human rights violations of immigration detainees occurring in many countries with no independent oversight in many cases. We urge countries to develop alternatives to detention, as has occurred in Australia and is being explored in a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere.

 “Where detention is used, countries should comply with international Human Rights standards and uphold detainee rights and allow civil society, national and international bodies to monitor the conditions within detention facilities without restriction.”

 The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its Annual Report to the Human Rights Council found earlier this year that ‘the Working Group was able to satisfy itself during country missions that there are alternatives to detention for illegal immigrants, which have been successfully implemented. The Working Group requests States to use detention of asylum-seekers and illegal immigrants only as a last resort, and encourages them to explore alternatives to detention, such as supervised release, release on bail, designated residence or regular reporting to authorities.

 For more details contact IDC Director Grant Mitchell on +61 3 92899303 or +61 403194665


Notes to Editors:

The IDC is a coalition is a coalition of over 150 non-governmental groups and individuals working in over 50 countries the world providing legal, social and other services, carrying out research and reporting, and doing advocacy and policy work on behalf of refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers who have come together to share information and to promote greater respect for the human rights of detainees. 

 The IDC advocates limiting the use of, seeking alternatives to, and using the least restrictive forms of, immigration detention.The steering committee of the IDC brings together a number of leading international NGOs which share concerns about the treatment of immigration detainees, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, World Council of Churches, and a number of national NGOs.

·       TThe IDC survey can be found at:

·       The WGAD Annual Report can be found at:



Email: [email protected]