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Stop detention of irregular migrants, UN expert

François Crépeau, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has urged states to avoid administrative detention of irregular migrants.

“Liberty is the rule, detention is the exception,” he in his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council.

“The issue of migration detention is of paramount concern, given the growing tendency of states to detain migrants in an irregular situation, and in light of the wide range of human rights issues that such detention potentially has on those persons,’’ Mr. Crépeau said.

He discouraged states from resorting to immigration detention as the first option. “Immigration detention should never be mandatory or automatic. It should be a measure of last resort, only permissible for the shortest period of time and when no less restrictive measure is available,” he stressed. “Governments have an obligation to establish a presumption in favour of liberty in domestic law, and should consider progressively abolishing the administrative detention of migrants.”

The Special Rapporteur drew special attention to the fact that the right to liberty and security of a person, the protection against arbitrary detention, and all other human rights guarantees are applicable to all detained persons, regardless of their migration status.

“Any detention of migrants must be prescribed by law and must be necessary, reasonable and proportional to the objectives to be achieved,” he said.

The UN Expert also focused on the importance of providing special protection for certain categories of migrants in detention and specific measures that should be taken for their protection.

In his report, Mr. Crepeau shares a range of successful non-custodial alternatives to detention, which are also considerably less expensive than detention measures.

He however, warned that the success of those alternatives depends on the adoption of a human rights approach.

“All persons subject to non-custodial measures should receive clear and concise information about their rights and duties in relation to the measures in place, on the consequences of non-compliance, and treated with dignity, humanity and respect for their human rights,” Mr. Crépeau said.

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