What are the procedures established by Member States to place a person in detention or providing an alternative to detention? The latest study from the European Migration Network provides a comparative overview of the similarities, differences, challenges, and best practices in the use of detention and alternatives to detention, in the framework of both international protection and return procedures.
EU legislation regulates the detention of migrants within the context of international protection and return procedures. This study follows the 2014 publication “The use of detention and alternatives to detention in the context of immigration policies” and aims to provide a comparative overview of detention procedures and available alternatives to detention in 25 Member States between 2015 and 2020.
The study Detention and alternatives to detention in international protection and return procedures aims to identify similarities, differences, practical challenges, and best practices in the use of detention and alternatives to detention in the Member States within the framework of both international protection and return procedures. Categories of third-country nationals considered include: international protection applicants and third-country nationals who have been issued a return decision. The study pays special attention to the use of detention and alternatives to detention in relation to vulnerable persons such as minors, families with children, pregnant women, and people with special needs.
The study highlights the introduction of legislative changes in the majority of Member States, primarily related to the need to implement EU legislation, and to further define the scope, content and criteria for the application of detention. Member States have introduced alternatives to detention as part of their national laws on immigration and asylum and prioritize them or intend to do so. For instance, it relates to the obligation to report to the respective authorities at regular intervals, and the requirement to reside at a designated place.
The study outlines challenges faced by Member States with regards to the implementation and use of alternatives to detention. Examples include high administrative burden on staff and limited financial means of the third-country nationals concerned. In all Member States it is possible to detain or impose alternatives to detention on vulnerable groups. Some Member States introduced legislative changes to lower the minimum age for the application to alternatives to detention, whereas other Member States introduced new rules to prevent minors and families with minors from being detained in detention centres.
When deciding whether to apply detention or an alternative to detention, several criteria are being considered, such as the level of risk of absconding, vulnerability, and the suitability of available alternatives. With regards to the impact of detention or alternatives to detention on the effectiveness of Member States’ return policies and international protection procedures, the data collected suggest that detention has a bigger impact on reducing absconding rates and implementing forced return. The most frequently used alternatives to detention are reporting obligations, the requirement to reside at a designated location, the obligation to surrender a passport or identity document, the requirement to communicate an address and release on bail.
The EU report is accompanied by a shorter Inform and Flash that summarize main findings in succinct manner and by infographics. The Study of the Slovak Republic is available in a questionnaire format in English and Slovak language.