The Hidden Face of Migrant Detention Camps

A lack of transparency still surrounds Europe's migrant detention camps, but the new booklet “The hidden face of immigration detention in Europe" attempts to raise awareness and shed more light on the situation within the camps.

Under the official pretext of “rationalizing the management of migration flows,” migrant detention is being widely institutionalized, continuing to criminalize those considered undesirable. The "Mos Maiorum" operation, which will be conducted all over Europe from October 13 to 26[1], is yet another example of this logic. It is, in fact, aimed at stopping en masse migrants who will most probably end up filling detention centers, though the detention itself violates rights.

To draw attention to these observations and share its analyses, on October 15th, the Open Access Now campaign[2] is launching a booklet called The hidden face of immigration detention in Europe."

Detention conditions are analyzed in light of the principles contained in international and regional texts on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as of the European directives governing the rights of migrants. Without justifying the rational or the objectives of these directives, this booklet wishes to respond to the evaluation report of the “Return Directive" published by the European Commission on March 28, 2014, which does not mention the gap existing between the principles that the directive claims to defend regarding human rights and the actual practices in member states. It is worth highlighting that the European Commission admitted that a number of information could not be accessed.

In order to fight this lack of transparency, another tool was designed as part of the campaign: the interactive map “Close the Camps, which offers a visual illustration of the multiplication of camps and the resulting banality of detention. An updated overview will be available on October 15.

Finally, Open Access Now is organizing this year a period of mobilization in Europe and beyond, which will start on October 15 at the European Parliament, during a meeting with the members of the campaign and MEPs, under the patronage of MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL, France). This meeting will be an opportunity to exchange information concerning detention conditions and to elaborate possible common actions.

Therefore, from October 15 to 18, a series of actions will be taking place in several countries. These actions will include the visits of MEPs and MPs, civil society organizations and journalists to detention facilities, testimonies from former detainees as well as the organization of meetings and debates. Their common objective will be to continue raising awareness about migrant detention, denouncing these unacceptable situations and make known the resistances of those who demand to be free.


[1] Press release of the campaign Frontexit: “Mos Maiorum: the hunt against undocumented migrants in Europe

[2] The Open Access Now campaign aims, among other things, at demanding more visibility and transparency regarding immigration detention conditions. The campaign is led by an international steering committee made up by Migreurop, European Alternatives, La Cimade (France), Anafé (France), Arci (Italy), Sos Racismo (Spain), Human Rights League (Belgium), Ciré (Belgique) and Frontiers Ruwad (Lebanon).