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Immigration Detention: Nasc Report Reveals Flaws in Ireland's Immigration System

13th March 2018

Nasc launched a new report, Immigration Detention and Boarder Control in Ireland: Revisiting Irish Law, Policy and Practice, on Tuesday 13th March 2018. IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone spoke at the launch, highlighting the inappropriate nature of prison for immigration detention. 

The report was created with the purpose of assessing Ireland’s development in terms of legal frameworks in relation to immigration detention, and their application to the recommendations made in Mark Kelly’s 2005 report, Immigration-related detention in Ireland. Nasc's report comes at a crucial time, as Ireland prepares to open its first purpose-built immigration detention centre at Dublin Airport in 2018.

Nasc highlighted their great concern over the rising numbers of people detained in Irish penal facilities for immigration-related purposes, as well as the lack of transparency and accountability in areas of border control and immigration in Ireland. The report states that the researchers’ interviews with persons within the immigration detention system revealed the “fundamental inappropriateness of placing immigration detainees in prisons”.

Nasc’s key recommendations include:

  • Human rights: Detainees must have access to rights and legal safeguards equivalent to those possessed in the penal system, including: the right not to be held incommunicado; access to interpreter services; access to a lawyer; access to information on rights and reasons of detention; and access to medical treatment.
  • Information and support: Those refused leave to enter must be given the opportunity to access asylum procedures and guidance and appeals mechanisms regarding refusals of leave to land.
  • Monitoring: Set up of an independent oversight and monitoring mechanism at all main points of entry to Ireland, to ensure human rights and equality obligations are observed by Irish authorities.
  • Transparency: Greater transparency and accountability around the State’s decisions regarding immigration detention, including more rigorous data collection and publication in these areas.
  • Staff: Nasc welcomed the UNHCR and Tusla’s involvement in immigration staff training delivery, and encouraged the recruitment of new staff with experience in other languages.
  • Ports of entry: Those being detained should have immediate access to an interpreter, and there should be a complaints mechanism in place at all ports of entry to the State.
  • Detention: The report emphasises that detention should be a last resort and that the State should prioritise non-custodial options over detention.
  • Facilities: The new facility at Dublin Airport should be built in line with international best practice. Facilities should provide access to a wide range of activities, and have staff trained adequately in language and interpersonal skills, cultural sensitivity, and awareness of signs of detainee stress.
  • OPCAT: Nasc urges the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), which Ireland signed in 2007.
  • Legislation: The report advocated a number of legislative changes, for purposes including preventing Gardaí from arresting immigrants without a warrant, reducing the amount of time individuals can be detained for, and the provision of basic human rights to immigration detainees.

In their conclusion, Nasc state that the recommendations made by Mark Kelly thirteen years ago, as well as those made by the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and the UN Human Rights Council, still stand. They end by calling "on the Government to urgently implement their recommendations".

Read the full report here.

Learn more