UN concerned over EU detention procedures

"The systematic detention of irregular migrants has come to be viewed as a legitimate tool in the context of European Union (EU) migration management, despite the lack of any evidence that detention serves as a deterrent." This is what François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, told EU home affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström at the presentation of his latest report on 30 May in the European Parliament.

Crépeau participated in a discussion on the management of the EU’s external borders and its impact on the human rights of migrants and revealed the key findings of its most recent report, presented earlier this week to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
According to the report, detention as a tool for EU border control follows inadequate procedures, including the failure to respect legal, procedural and substantive guarantees, the detention of persons without prospect of removal, the detention of children, and an absence of alternatives to detention.
Even though, detention should be a measure of a last resort as EU law stipulates, the UN report says that in practice few viable alternatives to detention appear to be explored by the European Union institutionally and by its member states individually.
Moreover, Crépeau warns that detention of irregular migrants appears increasingly to be practised, not only within European Union member states, but also in neighbouring states at the external border, “often at the behest of, or with encouragement by, the European Union”. He added: “Detention appears to be increasingly encouraged, financed and promoted by the European Union in non-European Union border countries as a means of ensuring that irregular migrants in third countries are stopped prior to entering the European Union.”
The UN rapporteur is mainly concerned that the increasing practice of migration detention both within and outside of the EU is not automatically accompanied by the assurance of legal guarantees and basic human rights protection for detainees.
Crépeau sees the European Union as being an organisation withregional competence in the field of migration and stresses that the Union should insist on a human rights framework in all its negotiations on migration.
In addition, the report shows that the conditions of detention in the four examined countries (Greece, Italy, Turkey and Tunisia) are precarious, with inadequate health care or psychosocial support, and prison-like conditions, while detention of children and prolonged detention seem to be an every-day practice.
The UN rapporteur recommends, in particular, that the EU promotes viable alternatives to detention, and not insist on further entrenching detention as a migration control mechanism through support for expanded networks of detention centers. The report also suggests that the EU ensures full implementation of the Return Directive in all member States, as well as establishment of a human rights focal point within Directorate-General for home affairs.
Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that there is an evaluation of the Return Directive going on which will be ready by the end of the year. She stressed that currently, there exist very few legal ways for migrants to enter the European Union and admitted that Brussels needs to increase those via, for example, changing visa regimes.
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