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Detention centres for migrants: Open the doors, We have the right to know!

Today, in most EU countries, journalists and civil society have very limited access to migrant detention centres. The Open Access campaign focuses on visits by journalists and civil society groups to detention centres for migrants, in order to document and argue for the following call.

Because European citizens have the right to know the consequences of the policies implemented in their name. We demand that the right of access to detention centres be granted to journalists and civil society.

In Europe today, roughly 600,000 people including children are detained every year, most often without a court decision. This detention can last up to 18 months until the detainee is removed merely for breach of EU member states’ immigration laws. These people are not just deprived of their freedom of movement. Often, they are deprived of access to legal advice, health care and the right to live as a family...

Can European citizens say that they do not know all this? Unfortunately they can.

Today, in most EU countries, journalists and civil society have very limited access to migrant detention centres. Often, even when one accesses it is impossible to meet people in detention, or even to talk to them. Generally, only Members of national and European Parliaments have right of access.

This lack of transparency increases the risk of malpractice and numerous rights violations.

Yet access to information is an inalienable right of European citizens, defended by all European institutions (article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights refers to the ’freedom... to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority’).

Even the ’Return’ Directive of 16 December 2008, which our organisations continue to clearly condemn in particular on the issue of length of detention, states that ’relevant and competent national, international and non-governmental organisations and bodies shall have the possibility to visit detention centres’.

More information on Open Access Now

European appeal against the detention and forced removal of foreign minors

Detention of minors should not be allowed on the bases of immigration status. This principle has been reiterated by numerous international bodies (High Commissioner for Refugees, International Alliance Save the Children, etc.) who called for the immediate admission of minors in the territory. In the framework of children’s rights for protection and the respect of the principle of the best interest of the child as defined by international law (art. 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), forced return of minors is not allowed.

However, the majority of European countries detain and remove foreign minors whether they are alone or with their family. National legislations allowing for practices of the detention and forced removal of children which have very bad consequences, are regularly denounced by NGOs and childhood professionals who point out that many alternatives to these practices are available. Currently, EU Member States are discussing an EU directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (COM 2005-391). The draft text allows for the detention and forced removal of minors.

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