Project issues first-of-its-kind report profiling Swiss immigration detention practices.
As debate about the detention and deportation of migrants in Switzerland has intensified after the release of the documentary film “Vol Spécial” covering the subject, yesterday the Global Detention Project announced the release of its latest publication entitled "Immigration Detention in Switzerland: A Global Detention Project Special Report". The report is the result of a lengthy investigation researching official and non-official sources of information, consulting studies undertaken at various Swiss universities, and querying governmental actors and NGOs working on this issue. The report appears to provide a first-of-its-kind profile of the Swiss immigration detention estate.
According to the report’s authors, Michael Flynn and Cecilia Cannon, it is meant to serve as an overview of and contribute substantively to the current state of knowledge of immigration detention in Switzerland. The report’s introduction states that one of its aims is to facilitate transparency with respect to the practice by carefully documenting where detention centres are located, the grounds for which people can be held at facilities, and the conditions that prevail in some of them. It endeavours to assess the various situations that different kinds of migrants confront when they are deprived of their liberty, highlights vulnerabilities faced by particular categories of detainees, and recounts the findings of both national and international rights groups who have investigated Swiss detention practices.
“Immigration detention has become a hotly debated topic in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. We hope that our report can serve as the basis of a more informed public discussion about this practice,” Michael Flynn said.
Among the report’s key findings was that the Swiss policy of delegating responsibility for implementing immigration laws to the cantons has led to some unusual results. For instance, the federal government told the Global Detention Project researchers that information about detention centres could only be received from cantonal authorities. However, while must cantons responded quickly and fully to the project’s requests, some cantons declined to respond, which presented significant challenges to the GDP in its efforts to map the country’s detention sites.
“Given the difficulties we had in getting information, a strong case could be made for establishing a mechanism to improve transparency of this issue on the national level”, Commented Michael Flynn.
The Global Detention Project is an inter-disciplinary research endeavour that investigates the role detention plays in states’ responses to global migration, with a special focus on the policies and physical infrastructures of detention. The project is based at the Graduate Institute’s Programme for the Study of Global Migration and receives financial support from Zennstrom Philanthropies and the Swiss Network for International Studies.
The report was discussed in today’s issue of Le Temps.