7 February 2014

A new study by Borderline Europe in cooperation with partner organisations KISA in Cyprus, Borderline Sicilia in Italy, and Mugak and Acoge in Spain reveals serious shortcomings concerning the implementation of the EU Return Directive in Spain, Italy and Cyprus and highlights the conditions under which migrants are detained in these countries.

The report concludes that the use of detention in these three countries neither  facilitates the effectiveness of the deportation procedure nor protects the human rights of migrants.

In Italy, where € 108,091,578 was spent on running detention “services” from 27 December 2008 to 13 April 2013, official data shows that less than half of the total number of detainees are actually deported. In Spain, the fact that this data is not made available led the researchers to suspect that not many returns are carried out. According to the report, the common practice in Cyprus of re-arresting migrants by the end of the maximum 18 month period shows that obstacles to repatriation can’t be overcome by adopting longer periods of detention.

According to the report, the detainees’ fundamental human rights are severely compromised and they live in a state of frustration and fear. The report emphasises that 18 months of deprivation of freedom as allowed by the Directive is comparable with the kind of punishment for serious criminal offences in many EU countries. According to the researchers, two elements make accepting detention more difficult: being deprived of freedom despite not having committed a crime and the lack of knowledge about the duration of the detention since it’s impossible to know at the moment of the arrest how long it will take to identify the person and organise travel documents.

In Cyprus, undocumented migrants awaiting deportation are detained together with people serving a criminal sentence, in contravention of the Return Directive. The report emphasises that this situation has also damaging consequences on public opinion, as it creates an inaccurate association between migrants and criminals. The detention of undocumented children in Cyprus is also used as a routine and automatic measure, the report found.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 07 February 2014
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