ATD Pilot Projects
Each adapted to their own national context, the pilot projects in the European ATD Network work with a range of migrant cohorts to provide case management as an alternative to immigration detention. They to explore how alternatives based on engagement can reduce absconding and work towards case resolution, meeting the needs of migrants and States.
The pilots aim to generate evidence and models for effective alternatives, in order to initiate discussions and partnership between civil society and governments around shared interests in fair and effective immigration systems in which immigration detention is only used as a last resort.
Pioneer case management based ATD pilot
HumanRights360 is a civil society organization established in Greece. In HumanRights360, we believe that the cornerstone of integration is the access to basic rights and that, only by protecting the individual, political and social rights of the whole population and by ensuring access to rights and justice, can we achieve social cohesion. Thus, our mission is to protect and empower the rights of all, with no discrimination but with special focus on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. We are part of the worldwide human rights movement that is struggling for a world where fundamental human rights are enjoyed by all. We give priority to addressing the most pressing human rights violations, both acute and chronic, as a prerequisite for maintaining the rule of law in our society.
Migration policy environment in Greece
During the last four (4) years in Greece, policy decisions concerning the detention implementation are constantly changing. In 2015, the number of detainees as well as the duration of detention were significantly reduced and were adopted measures to tackle the prolongation of detention beyond 18 months, to substantially improve detention conditions, as well as to use alternative measures to detention.
In 2016, following the closure of the borders at the “Balkan-route” and the adoption of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016, Greece returned to a widespread use of detention. Administrative detention was gradually resumed to persons in view of their removal based mainly on public order grounds which is usually not properly justified as well as the danger of absconding. In general, administrative detention is implemented without prior individualized assessment on each case and without taking into consideration the vulnerabilities and specific needs of each individual, in contravention of the international, European and national legislation, according to which the administrative detention can be implemented only as a measure of last resort, following an individualized assessment as well as the prior examination of the possibility to implement alternatives.
In addition, detention facilities are overcrowded, and the detention conditions are most of the times inappropriate (inadequate access to basic services, poor provision of medical and psychosocial services) or even completely unsuitable, while many persons remain in Police Stations for long periods (even for months) under very challenging conditions (no yarding, no access to basic services).
Furthermore, many third country nationals are being detained for long periods, however with no prospect of being returned due to various reasons (return is impossible, consular authorities do not cooperate, economical obstacles etc.). In such cases, following the exhaustion of the time limits for detention (without being returned), individuals become “foreign nationals without legal documentation” at risk of being detained again.
Following the elections and the change of the government in July 2019, the Ministry of Migration Policy was dissolved, and its mandate was transferred to the Ministry of Citizens and Protection. Simultaneously, a new law concerning the burning issue of International Protection in Greece was adopted on the 1st of November 2019 after a period of various leaks concerning the provisions of this law.
The rationale behind the law is to build a cursory system on international protection, aiming at the dramatic increase of returns, which does not rely on personalized examination of claims or safeguard and promotion of the fundamental rights of asylum seekers. Instead, the law seeks to introduce procedural barriers and complex procedures to discourage persons seeking international protection while reducing the substantive and procedural safeguards that exist to date. Taking into consideration Greek Asylum’s Service statistics on refugee status recognition rate in conjunction with police data on returns, we can safely assume that in the coming period we’ll see the undocumented population with no timeline for removal further increasing.
On top of that, many cases of persons becoming undocumented are identified as extremely vulnerable (e.g single mothers with children, former domestic violence victims, etc.) with limited supporting social network. These individuals are unable to ensure their welfare, and refrain from accessing food banks due to fear of arrest.
The law has been built on a framework that is based on the widespread enforcement of administrative detention of asylum seekers over long periods of time, even for vulnerable persons. Furthermore, it includes many punitive provisions that could lead to the rejection of the asylum application and it foresees excessive disproportionate consequences, as it requires asylum seekers to comply with ‘cooperation tasks’ with the authorities. These – in some cases – are humanly impossible to respond to, as a result of the system’s malfunctions.
In addition, a new and stricter directive defining more countries as safe countries of origin has been published by the Asylum Service. On 15th of January 2019, the Ministry of Migration Policy which was originally established in 2016 and abolished on 8/7/2019, was re-established. The latter has caused a malfunction to the competent directorates pending the transmission of their mandate from the Ministry of Civil Protection which was responsible following the abolishment of the Ministry of Migration Policy.
There is an urgent need for the implementation of community-based alternatives to detention in Greece. Accordingly, the project aims to build upon the already established cooperation with the Council for Integration of Migrants and Refugees (Municipality of Athens) and the good coordination with other NGOs in the field to identify clients and provide individualized assistance to 40 TCNs whom asylum claim has not be accepted and/or undocumented population under specific inclusion criteria. Following HumanRights360 selection process in compliance with the relevant law one case worker and one legal expert shall implement the screening and the individualized case management process in coordination with the advocacy officer.
Taking into consideration the above legislation changes and the fact that in Greece detention drives is political, we met with police authorities after the adoption and implementation of the new law to announce the project and with the aim of:
(a) mitigate the risk of non-cooperation of the authorities both in the view of insufficient knowledge of the amendments of the new legislation and in the view of a negative attitude towards the reactions which this law created to the actors at the field;
(b) let the authorities determine the need of congestion to the already overcrowded detention centres and;
(c) build trust with the authorities.
Undertaking the implementation of this project HumanRights360 aims to address, in some pilot scale for the time being, the needs of all the targeted population residing in Greece under our social integration service. The screening, the individualized case management approach and the advocacy through doing are the main tools for the implementation of all of our actions in the social integration service in order to provide the better case resolution and respecting every person’s willingness to schedule their lives.
Thus, this project is expected to also increase our capacity to provide a holistic and individualized support to all targeted population taking into consideration its specific needs and to advocate respectively by providing evidence. Most of the cases need time to be concluded (e.g whenever we have to face judicial issues or difficulties with health issues etc). Thus, there is the risk for some cases to be concluded after the expiration of the project. HumanRights360 shall conclude with the cases which we have undertaken but the stability in the funding would be very helpful to better organize and elaborate our strategy on ATD, since it is not very easy to shift the mentality from the beginning and reserve the trust without further implementation.
Main achievements to date
The pilot is successfully building relationships with authorities, including through informal discussions with the Police directorates. Following positive feedback from the latter, the team has recently submitted a request to the Police Headquarters for permission to access Pre-Removal Detention Centres.
Even though authorities are not willing to speak openly for alternatives to detention as such, they have identified the need of a solution to the overcrowded detention centres and are taking into consideration the model of individualized cased management aimed at case resolution as a potential option.
NGOs have also identified the need of another approach, beyond the legal assistance in order to enhance the implementation of alternatives to detention but still face this approach with reluctance. In the next period, with full implementation of the case management we shall be able to provide more evidence to broaden out the discussion.
Towards a more effective and humane migration management
In Italy, the pilot will provide holistic case management to migrants at risk of detention, including beneficiaries of humanitarian protection (a type of protection which was recently abolished), vulnerable individuals, and persons under labour exploitation.
Linking practical implementation with advocacy, the pilot will take advantage of the reach and diversity of expertise within CILD’s civil society coalition and of Progetto Diritti’s case work experience. It aims to support migrants to work resolve their cases while strengthening national evidence and increasing ATD practice among CSOs in Italy.
Action Access – Community Engagement Pilot
The two-year pilot will provide individualised case management and housing support up to 50 single women over the age of 18 years, without dependents, who have no offending history, no imminent removal directions and who have been refused asylum. The purpose of the project is to improve voluntary engagement with the immigration system for clients who would otherwise be detained whilst being supported in the community to resolve their immigration case in a humane and cost-effective way. During their time on the pilot Action Access staff will meet with participants every week to ensure they have access to the support required to reassess their protection needs (asylum claim) and make an informed decision about their future. The pilot was launched by the UK Home Office in December 2018 as part of its detention reform process. It is one of a series of alternative to detention pilots the UK government is planning.
Protecting migrants with precarious status: decreasing the use of detention and applying community-based alternatives
The Case Management team will engage over two years with a total of 50-60 migrants with return orders, providing holistic support on an individual basis, with the goal of avoiding the need to detain them and decreasing the risk of absconding, while helping them stabilize in the community until case resolution (obtaining legal status or return to country of origin or third country) is attained.
- CLA presentation at the EU Child Rights Forum (video, 2017)
Implementation of Alternatives to Detention of Third Country Nationals in Cyprus
The Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC), is an independent, non- profit organization, established in 2017, as the evolution of the Humanitarian Affairs Unit (2006-2017) of the NGO Future Worlds Center. During its 13 years of operation, the organisation has grown significantly to become an expert on refugee related issues, making it one of the main actors in Cyprus. CyRC strives to safeguard, support and advocate for the rights of vulnerable groups in Cyprus, promoting their effective integration, as well as working closely with the local society in order to provide quality services at the individual, community and policy level.
CyRC’s team is made up of dedicated professionals with extensive experience working directly with refugees, asylum seekers, detainees, trafficking victims, survivors of torture and irregular migrants. CyRC utilises an inter-disciplinary approach, by providing individualized legal, social and psychological support to persons of concern with the aim to ensure access to rights, integration into the local communities and a satisfactory quality of life.
Besides implementing a UNHCR funded project from 2006 to 2017, CyRC implemented a considerable number of related projects under various funds such as UNVFVT, EC funds, EPIM, ECRE, German Embassy and others.
It remains one of our main objectives to provide assistance and support to individuals in the asylum and/or migration procedures. As an organisation which aims at promoting the rights of such persons, we consider issues related with immigration detention, an intrinsic part of our work. Having implemented two EPIM-funded projects, CyRC has extensive experience in providing CM, conducting evidence-based advocacy, establishing communication pathways with state authorities and liaising for the adoption of ATD on selected cases in detention. Finally, CyRC is a highly regarded organization, due to its long presence and experience in the field of providing support to asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable groups.
Detention involves various rights that can be at risk, with the right to liberty being the overarching right. Liberty and the presumption against detention are the first two principles that underpin the Revised CAP Model. Cyprus is a valuable case-study in the analysis of the effectiveness of how Case Management and Advocacy can change the narrative with regards to ATD, since it is a small country with a fairly small number of migrants in detention. Therefore, it becomes easier to analyse the impact and shortcomings of our work and adjust our activities accordingly.
Through the implementation of the Project, CyRC ensures that the conversation on ATD by state and non-state focuses on engagement-based models rather than the coercive-based approaches that are in effect.
The Project builds on the progress and achievements established under the 2017-2019 Pilot, with the main objectives of reducing immigration detention, promoting engagement based ATD and contributing to the growing evidence and momentum on ATD at a national and regional level.
In regard to activities, the Project team provides individualized Case Management (CM) to persons that are in detention and/or at risk of detention including asylum seekers, rejected asylum seekers, irregular third country nationals and “non-removables”. CM is based on a holistic approach: encouraging trust, engagement and collaboration with the system, working towards case resolution and aiming towards the reduced use of detention. CM includes social counselling, mediation with authorities, psychological support, legal advice, and referral to other organisations/services to cover basic needs. A Screening and Assessment phase is conducted prior to CM, using an adaptation of the Vulnerability Screening tool, developed by IDC and UNHCR.
Furthermore, the Project is utilising an “advocacy through doing” approach, which includes advocating on individual cases to highlight the benefits of engagement based ATD by:
- Using evidence derived from CM;
- Maintaining alliances with CSOs and other independent bodies;
- Aiming to generate ATD practices or policies for specific groups;
- Outlining systemic gaps and the ineffectiveness of coercive-based approaches.
CM provides CyRC with further qualitative and quantitative data to demonstrate to the relevant authorities that the proposed CM model can lead to higher engagement rates and case resolution. Through CM, CyRC engages in frequent communication with state authorities and services in order to address the needs of beneficiaries and exchange up-to date information with the aim of contributing towards timely case resolution.
Along the way we identified and engaged with new stakeholders, which can impact on ATD, conditions in the community and coverage of basic needs. The Project team is pursuing informal and frequent meetings/communication with authorities to discuss individual cases, which also gives opportunity to advocate on the issu as a whole, utilising the evidence produced from CM.
Main achievements to date
Since the commencement of the Project in July 2019, the Project team has proceeded to the CM of 44 POCs, including persons who are in detention and in the community at risk of being detained. All of the cases managed are currently active/pending (none have reached resolution, or closure), and through CM, they are receiving adequate guidance from the Project team which leads to their improved interaction and engagement with authorities, combined with mediations and interventions undertaken by the Project team, which can be considered as a factor contributing to timely case resolution.
The experience of implementing the present Project, as well as the previous pilot has significantly contributed the Project team’s ability to continue its “advocacy through doing” on engagement based ATD. This is primarily a direct result of implementing CM, which has provided the Project team with substantial evidence on the lack of procedures, systemic gaps and enhanced the Project team’s technical expertise in CM, therefore reinforcing the narrative towards the adoption of ATD.
The Project team will continue working towards the desired impact which is provide CM to persons in detention or at risk of detention and contribute towards their case resolution, and to maintain the engagement of the authorities in ATD discussion and consider engagement based ATD for vulnerable persons.
No Detention Necessary – pilot project on Alternatives to Detention of migrants in return procedures
Association for Legal Intervention (SIP) is a Polish civil society organisation based in Warsaw. Its focus is on equality, diversity and human rights.
The pilot & main goals
The project aims to promote and expand the use of alternatives to detention by implementing an engagement-based case management model based on the Revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model, developed by the International Detention Coalition (IDC). Building on the experiences and lessons from the first phase of the project (2017-2019), the pilot takes the implementation further and engages authorities in the current phase. The project team will support 50 clients released from detention, referred to SIP by the authorities, with holistic case management, legal aid and psychological care. We hope that the fruitful cooperation between SIP and the authorities will be a first step towards convincing the lawmakers to include case management based ATDs in the national migration policies.
An ATD pilot project is for SIP an opportunity to test the CAP model in the context of a so called `transit country` and convince the decision makers that the engagement based ATDs are effective, thus contribute to the reduction of detention.
Community Support Project
The project aims to demonstrate that alternatives to detention can be effective for migrants with complex needs and risk factors who would otherwise face indefinite detention. The project aims to reduce the risk of absconding and reoffending of young male ex-offenders with barriers to removal, assisting them to meet the conditions of their release and avoid long-term detention. Through one-to-one case management, participants develop skills and confidence to stabilise their lives, participate in the community and maintain contact with the authorities.
- Detention Action’s report Without Detention (2016) pages 51 & 52.