Challenging Immigration: From Asia to Europe
MMN Workshop at the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum
On 16 – 19 November, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) attended the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) in Vientiane, Laos.
MMN organised a workshop entitled “Challenging Immigration Detention: From Asia to Europe” in collaboration with Global Detention Project (GDP) and National University of Laos (NUOL),
In attendance at the workshop were participants representing civil society organisations and mass organisations from Asia and Europe. ,
The workshop started with a participatory activity where participants shared about trends of immigration detention in their respective countries. It was followed by a round table discussion, where representatives from MMN, GDP and NUOL provided an overview of: trends relating to immigration detention in Europe and categorization of various types of immigration detention; immigration detention and deportation practices in Thailand; and the roles of migrant countries of origin in providing assistance to its nationals who are detained .
Across the globe, detention is used to government efforts to control global migration. This is despite evidence that suggests that the use of detention does little to deter would-be migrants, and detrimental to the health and wellbeing of detainees.
Recommendations arising from the workshop addressed to governments attending Asia Europe Summit were:
1. Governments shall ensure that immigration detention is used only as a LAST RESORT.
2. Governments shall not detain vulnerable migrants, including: children, asylum seekers, pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities, people with special medical needs, or victims of trafficking.
3. Any recourse to detention shall conform with fundamental human rights principles, including:
· provision of health care, information about the reasons for detention in a language the person understands, legal assistance, recreation, and adequate food and water;
· freedom from ill-treatment (including physical and psychological abuse);
· not to be detained alongside criminal prisoners;
· ability to challenge detention in appropriate legal setting;
· contact with outside world, including family members and consular representatives.
4. Governments shall adopt alternatives to detention for managing its irregular migrant population.
5. Authorities of migrants’ countries of origin shall provide consular assistance and other appropriate support when it is requested by its nationals.
6. Authorities of the countries of origin shall pressure detaining countries to treat detained migrants humanely and lawfully.
7. Governments shall not pressure neighbouring countries to detain transiting migrants and asylum seekers.
The final declaration of the 9th AEPF, which has only partially incorporated MMN’s recommendations, is available at:
The AEPF statement unfortunately does not capture the substance of the recommendation coming out of the MMN workshop and misses the important issues about immigration detention. MMN affirms its original recommendations, calls for renewed efforts to challenge immigration detention, in Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world.