A challenge to the practice of immigration-related detention will be leveled by a new coalition of human rights groups, with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice prominent among them, writes Tony O’Riordan SJ.
A number of Irish human rights groups have joined over 100 human rights groups worldwide, to form an international coalition to challenge immigration-related detention. Spread over 36 different countries, the coalition in Ireland also includes the Irish Refugee Council, (IRC) the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, (JCFJ) and the Mercy Ireland Justice Office (MIJO).
State’s right to control borders not absolute
Outlining the coalition’s position Mr Eugene Quinn of Jesuit Refugee Service Ireland said that: “States have the right to control their borders. But this right is not absolute. Fundamental human rights are not negotiable, and that includes the right not to be arbitrarily detained.”
End use of prisons for immigration-related detention
One of the aims of the coalition is to work for the end of the use of prisons for immigration-related detention. According to Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice up to 70% of foreign nationals detained in Cloverhill Prison are there under provisions of immigration legislation.
He said the coalition is necessary to highlight the fact that many people are being detained sometimes for indefinite periods, in prisons or prison-like circumstances and detained purely on the basis of their immigration status and not in prison for committing a crime.
“Immigration-related detention, should never breach fundamental human rights protections, nor should it be used to limit people’s access to seek and enjoy asylum, or be of an unreasonable or unlimited duration,” according to Fr O’Riordan.
Fewer detained, but length of detention increases
Mr Peter O’Mahony CEO of the Irish Refugee Council drew attention to research showing that while the total number of immigration-related detainees in Irish prisons has decreased, the duration of their detention has increased significantly, with 619 people detained for longer than 50 days in 2004 compared with 367 in 2003. He also highlighted the report’s conclusion that: “neither Cloverhill Prison nor the Dóchas Centre in Mountjoy Prison provides an appropriate environment in which to hold immigration detainees.”
For further information, contact:
Fr Tony O’Riordan SJ, Communications Officer, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, tel 01 855 6814 or mobile 087 928 6945.
Peter O’Mahony, CEO, Irish Refugee Council, telephone: 01 873 0042.
International Coalition Spokesperson James Stapleton can be contacted at tel: +39-06 68977390 or mobile 0039 3462343841.