20 June 2014

A new Practical Manual on Monitoring Immigration Detention by the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), the International Detention Coalition (IDC) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) sets out to provide a practical tool for building and strengthening monitoring and/or inspection capacities of organisations and individuals visiting places of immigration detention.

The manual offers a step-by-step guide to identifying and documenting situations where immigration detention conditions fail to meet minimum international standards. Guidelines are provided on how to prepare for, conduct, and follow-up on a visit to an immigration detention facility in order to assess the conditions of detention, the treatment of detainees and their access to care, advice, family and an effective complaints mechanism. Guidance on the visit encompasses assessment of the physical place of detention, observing procedures, interviews with the detainees themselves and facility staff, and access to administrative information. Advice is offered on how to monitor the law and practice of detention, in order to determine the existence of arbitrary and unlawful detention, in particular prolonged or indefinite custody. 

The manual also highlights which aspects of immigration detention to monitor, including detention procedures and recourse to alternatives to detention, access to a lawyer, access to asylum/protection procedures, requests and complaints mechanisms, and removal procedures. For each aspect, the manual provides useful references and sample questions.

Specific monitoring guidance is provided with respect to the risk of ill-treatment, including solitary confinement and use of force, safeguards such as disciplinary procedures and external inspection, healthcare and special needs, and material conditions, including accommodation arrangements, food and drinking water, hygiene, and clothing. The manual advises on the necessary questions to be asked regarding activities for detainees, including communication with the outside world, education, work, exercise and leisure, religious practice, and counselling.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 June 2014.
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