John Dardis SJ, President of the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials, launched a report on vulnerable asylum-seekers and the detention process. The event marked the 30th anniversary of the Jesuit Refugee Service, and Fr Dardis welcomed the fact that the report, which compares 23 member states, highlighted Ireland as a model of good practice in certain areas such as prohibiting the detention of minors who are immigrants. “However, he added, there remain strong financial and moral arguments for the Government to consider seriously instituting less costly non-custodial alternatives to detention of immigrants.” Eugene Quinn, Director of JRS Ireland, agrees: “We must find alternatives to detention for the sake of the savings in human and financial costs.” Read the report’s arguments below:
The report, “Becoming Vulnerable in Detention: Civil Society Report on the Detention of Vulnerable Asylum Seekers and Irregular Migrants in the European Union”, is a comparative study of 23 EU member states. It presents the findings of a project which investigates and analyses vulnerability in detained asylum seekers and irregular migrants.
The Irish chapter of the study concludes: “Ireland is clearly not a country of bad practices as regards immigration-related detention. Some of Ireland’s practices – such as the prohibition against the detention of children for immigration reasons – should be copied by other countries. However, the government can and should improve on its treatment of non-nationals and asylum-seekers in detention, as suggested in the recommendations. The first step in doing so could and should be the creation of alternatives to detention, something which the international community as well as the UNHCR continues to promote, particularly for asylum-seekers.”
Immigration-related detention is an administrative measure, not a punitive one. Eugene Quinn, National Director, JRS Ireland said “In addition to the savings in the cost of detaining people in prison, non-custodial alternatives would help ease the current dangerous level of overcrowding in Irish prisons, especially since immigration detainees have not been found guilty of any crime.”
The report suggests some feasible alternatives to detention, such as regular reporting, the posting of a bond, or restrictions in movement.