New Publication: The Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Mediterranean Region

greece_detention2, jrsDetention is another tool of dissuasion widely used in Europe to halt or to redirect asylum seekers who flee persecutions, war and unbearable poverty. Detention policies in Europe are also part of the collateral damages caused by the Dublin regulation, a set of rules which determine the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum applications. In the countries of first arrival of asylum seekers, such as Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain the conditions of detention suffers “serious shortcomings” as reported by the Global Detention Project in a recent report “The Detention of Asylum Seekers in the Mediterranean Region.”

This background paper highlights some of the vulnerabilities that refugees face when they are taken into custody in Mediterranean countries. The authors indicate how European Union-driven policies have impacted the migratory phenomenon in the region.


With the recent tragic surge in the number of deaths at sea of asylum seekers and other migrants attempting to reach Europe, enormous public attention is being focused on the treatment of these people across the Mediterranean. An important migration policy employed throughout the region is detention, including widespread deprivation of liberty of asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups (…) The report focuses on eight key countries in Europe and North Africa. While there are clear differences in treatment from one side of the Mediterranean to the next, looked at collectively, the protection environment across all the countries in the region is bleak. Not surprisingly, the conditions of detention asylum seekers face in North African countries are often horrific and inhumane. However, in Europe, there are also serious shortcomings. In fact, as this backgrounder reports, reception and detention conditions in three of Europe’s main asylum receiving countries (Greece, Italy, and Malta) are so inadequate that many of their EU counterparts have been forced to halt returns to these countries under the Dublin III Regulation.

The Global Detention Project (GDP) is a nonprofit research centre based in Geneva, Switzerland, that investigates the use of immigration-related detention as a response to global migration. Global Detention Project Website

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