On Monday 24 October, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Government of the United States of America to abolish the mandatory detention of migrants, especially asylum seekers, from all countries.

“Mandatory detention of migrants, especially asylum-seekers, is against international law standards,” the expert panel stressed at the end of its first official visit to the country, while urging the authorities to ensure individual assessment for detention of asylum seekers, including women, men and children.

“While immigration detention should be civil, i.e. non-punitive, in nature, we observed during our visits to various immigration facilities that people are being detained under punitive conditions that are often indistinguishable from those applicable to persons subject to criminal punishment,” said the Group’s delegation comprised by human rights experts Seong-Phil Hong, José Guevara, and Leigh Toomey.

“The detention of migrants appears to be implemented as a deterrent to immigration and to the continuation of legitimate immigration claims,” the experts said. “Migrants who vigorously pursue claims for relief from removal face substantially longer detention periods than those who concede removability, and subsequently have a record of entry that can be the basis to deny re-entry in the future. Moreover, mandatory detention can cause asylum seekers to revoke legitimate claims.” 

The Working Group also expressed concern about the practice of separating families and urged the US Government to end the detention of families and children, including unaccompanied children, in the context of migration and make concrete efforts to explore alternatives to detention.

The Working Group’s full end-of-mission statement is available here.

Source: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20749&LangID=E