Program of Work in 2015-2016

International

The IDC launched its Position Paper on LGBTI people in immigration detention alongside the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, June, 2016

The IDC launched its Position Paper on LGBTI people in immigration detention alongside the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council, June, 2016

  • The IDC continued to serve as Chair of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) to End Child Immigration Detention, which is an international alliance working to support States to end child immigration detention consistent with existing international human rights obligations to protect the best interests of the child. The IAWG is Comprised of over twenty prominent UN groups, inter-governmental and civil society organizations representing stakeholders in every country in the world, including IOM, OHCHR, UNHCR, and UNICEF.
  • The IDC continued its close collaboration with a number of key UN partners, including among others: the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • The IDC is also part of the NGO Core Group which supported the development of a UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, and has now been named one of only three NGO representatives to the Advisory Group for the UN Global Study. The Advisory Group will provide critical support and advice to the recently-appointed Independent Expert, Mr. Manfred Nowak, who will be undertaking the study beginning in 2017.  The UN Global Study will address deprivation of liberty of children in a number of different contexts, including: children in conflict with the law; immigration detention of children; and children detained in institutional settings.
  • State engagement has continued to be a priority for IDC during this year, with IDC Secretariat staff conducting over 30 country-visits to engage directly with government ministers and/or migration officials. At the UN level, the IDC has actively participated in and taken on a visible role at a number of critical State policy making forums, including the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council, meetings of the UNHCR Executive Committee (ExCom), and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). At the regional level IDC staff and Members participated actively in sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, The Africa Union, MIDSA and the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children. The team also held meetings with the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the COE Committee of Ministers, and the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Commissioners of the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children among others.

Africa

The launch of There Are Alternatives at the 57th session of the African Committee on Human Rights, November 2015, Banjul, Gambia

The launch of There Are Alternatives at the 57th session of the African Committee on Human Rights, November 2015, Banjul, Gambia

Work achievements in in this year included:

  • The IDC undertook comprehensive training of more than 8 members, as well as working collaboratively with 17 governments on the development of robust alternatives to detention.
  • The IDC was granted observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), a mechanism that promotes and protects the rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. NGOs with observer status may participate in and speak at the public discussions.
  • A Regional Launch of There Are Alternatives was held at 57th session of the African Committee on Human Rights (ACHPR)
  • IDC and members established ongoing partnerships with relevant Special Rapporteurs of the ACHPR
  • Mapping project completed on alternatives to immigration detention practices in the region, with publication planned for late 2016
  • Monitoring the African Children’s Charter at the 25th Session of the African Union
  • Regional digital Day of Action by IDC and supporters of the Global Campaign to End Child Detention on Day of the African Child (June 2016) raising awareness on alternatives for children
  • Advocacy efforts at the member-run Annual Regional Course on Forced Migration towards a focus on the resources that can be provided by migration
  • Resourcing southern African governments to maintain MIDSA commitments to alternatives and monitoring

Americas

Commissioner Gil Botero with IDC staff Vanessa Martínez and Ben Lewis launch There Are Alternatives in Washington, D.C., April 2016.

Commissioner Gil Botero with IDC staff Vanessa Martínez and Ben Lewis launch There Are Alternatives in Washington, D.C., April 2016.

  • In Mexico, over 200 government officials were trained on alternatives to detention and representatives from 25 IDC member and partner organisations working across 12 cities developed strategies to promote alternatives, which continue to be implemented via collaborative cross-sector capacity building and advocacy activities
  • In Mexico, 22 unaccompanied children were released from detention to participate in a pilot to explore community-based alternatives. Successful pilot implementation improved children’s well-being and generated interest from key government stakeholders and international organisations, creating opportunities for an institutionalized government-sponsored program
  • The collaborative advocacy in Mexico contributed to new legislation prohibiting immigration detention of children
  • Partnered with IDC member organizations IMUMI and Sin Fronteras to establish case management and legal assistance support for children in the community and identify, expand and support specialized reception capacity to strengthen community placement options for unaccompanied children in Mexico.
  • IDC became a founding member of the Regional Working Group for the Brazil Plan of Action, whose objective is to represent a united civil society voice on international protection issues and promote the implementation and follow-up of the Brazil Plan of Action, including specific State commitments to eliminate the use of immigration detention for children and expand alternatives
  • Highlighted harmful interception practices as a primary reason for the increase in arbitrary detentions at a cutting edge regional hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in October 2015, and continued engagement with the IACHR rapporteurs on migrants’ and children’s rights, especially during their site visit to Mexico
  • Launched the updated version of There Are Alternatives in English and summary in Spanish, in Washington DC in April 2016, with a keynote address from the IACHR Rapporteur for the Rights of Migrants
  • In the US, IDC co-hosted a convening on immigration detention monitoring, together with UNHCR and IDC member organization Detention Watch Network; and also joined the Family Case Management Program Reference Committee to provide feedback on a US government run pilot in order to encourage implementation of a holistic community-based case management model as part of an effective alternative to detention for families
  • Held a Central American “Northern Triangle Focus Month” in September 2015 as part of the Global Campaign to End Child Detention, which included contributions from partners across five countries and first-time support from government officials, followed by the launch of the Spanish version website for the Campaign in April 2016, providing an accessible, centralized and bilingual portal for all resources and information

Asia Pacific

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Regional Expert Roundtable on Alternatives to Immigration Detention for Children November 2015, Bangkok, Thailand.

Work achievements in in this year included: 

  • The IDC undertook comprehensive training of more than 13 members, as well as working collaboratively with 4 governments on the development of robust alternatives to detention.
  • A Regional Expert Roundtable on Alternatives to Immigration Detention for Children was co-organized by the IDC and Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) on 19-20 November 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Roundtable was hosted by Thailand’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (Dr. Seree Nonthasoot); 50 participants from government, civil society, national human rights commissions and intergovernmental agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand spent two days actively engaged in discussions about potential models of alternatives to immigration detention for children and their families
  • Alternatives to children are being developed or strengthened in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand at the government level.
  • 11 civil society organisations in Australia have developed a four-year advocacy strategy to promote legislative change, with funding for this project now being sought.
  • On 29 and 30th March 2016, in collaboration with APRRN, the IDC briefed Commissioners of the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC) on its work in the region on developing and piloting alternatives to detention for children. The IDC has also offered ACWC technical assistance in the implementation of its Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Children, in which the development of alternatives is listed as a priority area.
  • Participated in the Second Meeting of the Asia Dialogue on Forced Migration, convened by the Centre for Policy Development which led to refugee protection issues being placed on the Bali Regional Ministerial agenda.
  • Attended parliamentary meeting with local members in South Korea in December 2015 to propose new legislation to end child detention and to further campaign efforts in the country.
  • On 30th March 2016, briefed Malaysian Members of Parliament on the impact of immigration detention on children and the benefits of alternatives ahead of their visit to immigration detention centres in Malaysia.
  • A three day advocacy strategy development workshop was held with Australian members in December 2015, which led to a four year advocacy promoting legislative change, with funding for this project now being sought by a Coalition of 11 civil society organisations.
  • Support provided to Australian civil society organisation to lead meetings with Australian Parliamentarians and children who had been directly impacted by immigration detention, with complimentary events supporting children and members of the parliament to raise awareness of the impact of child detention and the need for viable alternatives to detention to be developed
  • Presented on alternatives to national human rights institutions from the Asia Pacific Region, as part of training conducted by the Asia Pacific Forum and the Association for the Prevention of Torture.
  • Presented on the work of the IDC and alternatives to a regional meeting of the Asia Pacific Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies
  • Together with APRRN, briefed government officials and members of parliament in New Zealand on the potential role the country could play in promoting alternatives for children in Southeast Asia.
  • Advocacy and campaign training with refugee and human rights advocates from across Asia in Thailand in December 2015, in collaboration with APRRN

Europe

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Exploring alternatives to immigration detention in Greece: Mr Tzanetos Filippakos - Alternate Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior and Public Reconstruction, Police Major General Emmanouil Grigorakis - Head of the Aliens and Border Protection Branch of the Hellenic Police, IDC Europe Regional Coordinator - Eiri Ohtani, Police Brigadier General Menelaos Kostaris - Head of the Illegal Immigration Division of the Hellenic Police, IDC Director - Grant Mitchell, Police Lieutenant Colonel Athanasios Papadimos - Personal Aide to the Alternate Secretary General Police Major Dimitrios Karapatakis.

  • Government meetings on developing alternatives to detention in Greece, Cypress and Ukraine with a specific focus on children with parlimentarians in Switzerland and the Netherlands
  • Partnered with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to conduct national work for the Campaign to End Child Detention collaborating with local agents to promote the issue among 47 member states
  • IDC moderated the PACE Roundtables on ending child detention in Europe
  • Published the report NGO Monitoring Immigration Detention: Tips, examples and positive practices which collates the experiences of NGOs across Europe and suggests vialble advocacy avenues to increase access to detention
  • Advocacy and member engagement in Cypress, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and the Ukraine
  • Regional human rights bodies that have been engaged during this period include the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Commission and the European Parliament
  • Europe regional level engagement has continued with IOM, OHCHR, UNHCR and ICRC.
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“The IDC handbook There are Alternatives as well as the IDC website have been very instrumental to The Platform’s work. Not only do we find there the arguments to promote alternatives to detention, but also concrete examples from various countries...”

Tine Vermeiran, Coordinator of IDC Member organisation the Platform for Minors in Exile, based in Brussels, Belgium.

The IDC produced a number of key resources in 2015:  

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There Are Alternatives

The comprehensive handbook was revised and updated with a launch at the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council and subsequent launches worldwide. Access here »

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The Position Paper - LGBTI Persons in Immigration Detention

This position paper builds upon the IDC Core Position that vulnerable individuals should never be placed in immigration detention by looking specifically at the plight of LGBTI refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants. It finds that immigration detention is particularly harmful to individuals who are already at a heightened risk of discrimination, abuse and exploitation, such as LGBTI persons and calls for an end to LGBTI immigration detention. Access here »

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NGO Monitoring of Immigration Detention – Tips, examples and positive practices

This briefing note captures the outcome of a workshop on monitoring immigration detention for European NGOs, sharing their experiences advocating for more robust monitoring of immigration detention. It complements the Monitoring Immigration Detention Guide produced by IDC in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Association for the Prevention of Torture. Access here »

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Ending Child Detention Advocacy Resources

he IDC led the development of two resources produced by the Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG) to End Child Immigration Detention. The first is a booklet which provides an overview of the issue of child immigration detention. The second is a Summary of Normative Standards and Recommendations  Policy Developments on Child Immigration Detention.