The report of the IDC’s second Europe Regional Workshop (Brussels, 27 & 28 March 2014) is now available here.

Key ways forward for ATD in Europe

The report contains summaries of the discussions and presentations at the workshop and also highlights nine key ways forward identified in relation to ATD as a means to reduce unnecessary immigration detention in Europe:

  1. There is a need to shift the focus in Europe from enforcement-based alternatives to detention to those that rely on engagement – these have been found to be more effective in protecting rights, promoting migrant welfare and maintain high rates of compliance.
  2. It is necessary to ensure that programmes presented as ATD respect rights, decrease detention and do not shift the presumption away from liberty – ATD should also be independently monitored.
  3. Civil society is encouraged to actively engage on ATD as an advocacy tool to reduce unnecessary detention, given the current window of opportunity provided by developments in European law, which obliges states to use ATD before detention.
  4. We need groups with different focuses and approaches in this field, but collaboration and coordination are also essential to achieve our common goal.
  5. Capacity building is required on all sides in relation to reducing detention and ATD: for the courts, NGOs, lawyers, authorities and civil society (highlighted in Central and Eastern Europe).
  6. Governments need assistance on how to implement appropriate, effective and rights-based ATD, taking into account the broad-spectrum of options available. It would be useful if the European Commission could prepare guidelines for states on this.
  7. Space should be created for governments and NGOs to sit down and discuss ATD (civil society organisations have developed expertise in this field which can be shared) – it would be useful if European institutions could assist to create this space.
  8. NGO and government pilot projects are a way to further community-based models; there seem to be real possibilities for NGO-led engagement-based ATD in this region (highlighted in North and Western Europe).
  9. There is an opportunity for civil society to engage with governments on individual assessment procedures (which they are obliged to conduct under EU law) as an important way to ensure people are not unnecessarily detained and ATD are tailored to individual needs.


The following steps were agreed on as ways of strengthening work on immigration detention through collaboration in the region:

  • A working group to further work on ATD in the region and act as a sounding board for other members in their engagement on ATD.
  • A network on monitoring places of immigration detention in Europe: to share methodologies, tools and coordinate on monitoring activities
  • An email group on strategic litigation on immigration detention in the EU

More news on the IDC Europe Regional workshop 2014: