`Migrant detention equivalent to imprisonment’
8th June 2010: The practices in Dutch migration detention centers are unacceptable, says a report ‘Humanity in migrant detention’, published by Justitia et Pax Netherlands.
People who are mostly not suspected of, not convicted for, any crime can be detained for months under circumstances much more severe than in normal prisons.
Officially migrant detention is an administrative measure, not a penal one, but in practice it is the equivalent of imprisonment, the report finds after talking to Roman Catholic prison-chaplains.
Justitia et Pax Netherlands works for the improvement of the human rights situation in the Netherlands and worldwide. It is founded by the Roman Catholic Bishop’s Conference.
Justitia et Pax is part of an international network, started in 1967 and is active in 130 countries.
In this report, Roman Catholic prison-chaplains have expressed their concerns about the way refugees and undocumented migrants are being held in custody.
The inquiry was made by Justitia et Pax in 2009 among the Roman Catholic chaplains, who work in Dutch migrant detention centers.
In the Netherlands, annually some ten thousand refugees and undocumented persons are detained in migrant detention centers.
Detainees can ask for pastoral care from pastors, who are available from almost every religion and view of life. Eight Roman Catholic pastors are employed in the six migrant detention centers.
From the daily experiences of these pastors, Justitia et Pax infers that parts of the current policy for migrant detention are unacceptable.
As of now, Justitia et Pax wants to draw political attention to the alternatives to migrant detention. There are alternatives that have less impact on the freedom, the rights and well-being of undocumented migrants. So far, the government has shown no interest in such alternatives.