A conference held in Brussels on 6 February presented the findings of a major research project into alternatives to detention in the EU, coordinated by the ‘Odysseus Network – Academic network for legal studies on immigration and asylum in Europe’.

Entitled “MADE Real” (Making Alternatives to Detention in Europe a Reality by Exchanges, Advocacy and Learning), the aim of the 18-month project was to: “address the knowledge and implementation gap concerning alternatives to detention for asylum seekers in the EU, paying particular attention to vulnerable asylum seekers, to assist Member States in the transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive and to enhance the use of alternatives to detention complying with EU and international legal standards”.

The project brought together NGO partners and academic members of the Odysseus Network from 13 EU countries, with research on ATD conducted in 6 EU countries and training workshops in a further 7 EU countries. The project published a research synthesis report and training module on alternatives to detention in the EU, which is designed for adaptation to EU national contexts.

At the conference, the results of the research were presented by the coordination team and project partners, together with interventions from practitioners, judges and academics from several EU Member States as well as representatives from EU institutions and international organizations, at a moment when Member States have to transpose the directive on reception conditions for asylum seekers.

The 1st panel analysed the notion of alternative to detention and underlines its relevance in the EU context. The 2nd panel discussed the principles and difficulties underlying administrative decision-making and judicial control on both detention and alternatives to detention, taking successively the points of view of the administration and of the judge. The final panel presented the opportunities and challenges raised by the implementation of alternatives to detention in practice.

Speaking on the final panel, the IDC’s Europe Regional Coordinator, Jem Stevens, presented on “what makes alternatives to detention work: a focus on the case management model”.  She shared the results of the IDC’s own global research into ATD, which highlighted that ATD based on engagement and support, including through case management, are more likely to be successful in term of high compliance and well-being outcomes. However, in the EU the focus of ATD has tended to be on conditions and restrictions (i.e. enforcement). There is therefore a need to shift the focus, with case management providing a key way for governments to avoid detention while meeting their migration management goals, she said.


More information is available on the MADE Real project is available on the Odysseus Network website and project newsletters:

Posted 9 February 2015