GDP News & Publications

                    • International Studies Association: Cecilia Cannon, former research assistant at the GDP, presented a paper she coauthored with Michael Flynn at the ISA's 56th Annual Convention in New Orleans (18-21 February 2015). The paper was titled "Does Privatization Explain the Poor Treatment of People in Immigration Detention?"


                    "The [new U.S. House of Representatives government funding bill] adds 2,000 agents at border ports and mandates that Immigration and Customs Enforcement 'maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds through September 30, 2014.' This represents, at a cost of 2.8 billion, 'the highest detention capacity in history.' It is mindless to keep throwing billions at border enforcement and detention at a time when illegal immigration [in the United States] is at historic lows. ... Why make the people who run a vast and expensive law-enforcement apparatus responsible for keeping prison beds warm rather than communities safe--especially when there are low-cost alternatives to detention that don't involve fattening the bottom lines of for-profit prison corporations?"
                    New York Times, 20 January 2014

                    “[Immigration] detention is the opposite of criminalization in the sense that it is putting people in prison without using the criminal process. ... The present system we have is one of administrative discretion that allows a vast amount of detention to go on without any proper rules of law and oversight. If there is going to be detention it should be criminal rather than administrative. That would make it much harder to detain. Governments would have to rethink because the criminal process is just a lot more difficult, and more costly, and more demanding.”
                    Dan Wilsher, Presentation at the Graduate Institute, 8 March 2012.



                    "Allowing the private sector to run immigration detention will mean ... an ever increasing number of people coming into the system and staying there longer ... as companies seek to maintain and expand their markets."

                    Stephen Nathan, Presentation at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, 2 March 2010


                    Featured Countries



                    In early 2014, Austria opened its first specialized immigration detention facility. The development comes after more than two decades of criticism from national and international observers, who have pressed the country not to detain migrants and asylum seekers in prisons and other criminal facilities. The opening, however, was accompanied by controversy because of the decision to outsource security and other services at the facility to a much-criticized private prison firm, G4S. The development also coincides with marked decreases in the numbers of people detained for immigration-related reasons, which have gone down by some 30 percent over the last five years, a trend observed in several other EU countries.


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                    Germany’s immigration detention policies contrast sharply with those of its EU neighbours: It makes widespread use of prisons and it places authority over immigration matters in the hands of regional authorities. The decentralized nature of this system presents important challenges in getting comprehensive information about detention practices and establishing accountability. For instance, federal authorities often claim that they do not have statistics on immigration detention and some regional authorities have claimed that information about this issue is “sensitive.” Germany’s detention policies were the subject of recent ground-breaking legal cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union, which ruled that Germany cannot rely on the fact that there are no dedicated detention facilities in a given Land to justify keeping non-citizens in prison pending their removal. On the other hand, the number of detainees in the county has sharply fallen in recent years. One official told the Global Detention Project, “There are important discussions going on right now in Germany about whether we should be detaining immigrants at all.”


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                    Located between impoverished and politically volatile countries to the south and Israel and Europe to the north, Egypt has long been an important destination and crossing point for international migrants and asylum seekers in the Mediterranean region. Since the onset of conflicts in Syria and Gaza, the country has also become an important destination for Syrian nationals and Palestinians. Wracked by its own internal political turmoil, Egypt's response to these migration pressures has a times been characterized by violence and arbitrariness. According to unofficial sources, thousands of Africans, many trafficked in the Sinai by Bedouin tribes, have disappeared in recent years, some of whom were later found confined in Egyptian jails. Syrians, who were initially welcomed by Egypt, now find themselves frequently detained in police stations. And Palestinians fleeing the devastation wrought by Israeli bombing have reportedly been shot at and arrested by police as they attempt to leave Egyptian shores in smuggling boats heading for Europe. The legal status of detainees is often unclear as they shift between criminal and administrative forms of custody. The Global Detention Project estimates that nearly 60 detention facilities, nearly all of them either prisons or police cells, have been used in recent years for immigration-related detention.


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