New manual to check immigration detention conditions launched

Press Releases, 16 June 2014

Joint Press Release – United Nations Refugee Agency, Association for the Prevention of Torture and International Detention Coalition

"Out of sight, but not out of mind"

New manual on Monitoring of Immigration Detention addresses need to improve conditions in places where asylum-seekers and migrants are held

Geneva, 16 June 2014 Today, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), together with the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and the International Detention Coalition (IDC) launches a practical manual on monitoring of immigration detention.

The publication is a response to an increasing tendency by governments, in many parts of the world, to place asylum-seekers and migrants families and children included behind bars. People fleeing for their lives find themselves in maximum security prisons or detained under other conditions that are unsuitable to their particular situation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, stresses the urgent need for increased transparency in these closed places:

"Asylum-seekers in detention are among the most vulnerable people with whom UNHCR staff comes in contact. Monitoring makes sure that while they may be out of sight, their circumstances are not out of our minds. Monitoring can lead to important improvements in the physical and material conditions of asylum-seekers and others, and this manual will help achieve that."

Detention should always be a last resort. When it is deemed unavoidable, governments must ensure that the conditions in detention meet international standards and that the rights and dignity of those detained are fully respected. The first, fundamental step to preventing abuse is to allow outside access to detention facilities. Independent monitoring can then help prevent human rights violations by detecting areas that need improvement.

The Association for the Prevention of Torture, co-publisher of the Manual, has advocated for independent monitoring of all places of deprivation of liberty for more than 35 years. According to its Secretary General, Mark Thomson, the organisation is increasingly concerned about the situation of migrants in detention:

"Asylum-seekers and other migrants often arrive without contacts, money or any other resources. They are locked up as if they were criminals and are completely in the hands of the detaining authorities. Independent oversight of immigration detention is therefore essential, to reduce the risk of human rights abuses."

Monitoring Immigration Detention is a step-by-step guide for anyone or any institution carrying out immigration detention visits. It can also be used as a checklist for authorities, detention centre staff and journalists on the standards that need to be applied when asylum-seekers and migrants are detained.

For further information please contact:

Ariel Riva

Legal Officer, Protection Policy and Legal Advice

Division of International Protection

UNHCR Geneva

Tel.: +41 22 739 8674

Fax: +41 22 739 7354

E-mail: riva@unhcr.org

www.unhcr.org

Tanya Norton

Detention Monitoring Adviser

Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)

Tel.: +41 22 919 2187

E-mail: tnorton@apt.ch

www.apt.ch

Grant Mitchell

Director

International Detention Coalition (IDC)

Tel.: + 61 3 9999 1607

Fax: + 61 3 96297213

E-mail: gmitchell@idcoalition.org

www.idcoalition.org