Alternatives to detention
Alternatives to detention (ATD) are measures imposed on migrants which, as a rule, are less repressive than detention and still allow the migration authorities to retain control over them. According to both Polish law and European standards, alternative measures have priority over detention, which means that each time an immigrant is considered for placement in a detention center, it should be justified why in a given case less repressive alternatives would not be sufficient.
According to the Polish law, the alternatives to detention are:
- reporting to a designated authority (Border Guard),
- payment of cash collateral in a specified amount
- obligation to reside in a designated place
- placing the travel document or other identity document in deposit
Engagement-based alternatives to detention
According to research, much more effective than “normal” alternatives to detention are measures that use elements of social work, such as case management, performed by people who are not employees of migration services or authorities. Rather than control, they focus on working with a newcomer to support immigrants and give them the tools to consider all possible migration solutions.
Furthermore, research indicates that immigrants are much more willing to engage in procedures that concern them and to comply with the requirements imposed by the migration authorities if they have a sense that a fair trial has been conducted for them and their basic needs are met.
Case management is a comprehensive and systemic approach for providing support to people who are not placed in detention, designed to respond to the complexity of their factual and legal situation. Assigning to migrants a dedicated person who, without having any influence on the administrative procedures in progress in their case, coordinates and facilitates access to services offered to them, provides information on their factual and legal situation and serves as an intermediary between immigrants and the migration office and services, has a positive impact on the effectiveness of procedures involving migrants. Recommendations for alternatives to detention based on case management and cooperation with civil society are made for governments by authorities such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights or by the General Assembly of the Council of Europe.
European Alternatives to Detention Network
The European ATD network, established in 2017, currently associates 6 national organizations implementing pilot projects based on the case management model. Members’ activities are supported by the IDC international coalition and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants. The network, of which Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej is also a member, aims to demonstrate the readiness of European civil society to assume its share of responsibility for managing migration by supporting those who do not need to be detained. At the same time, through the implementation of alternative detention pilots, the network is building the knowledge base necessary to advocate for ATD, which can help national governments interested in such alternatives to build migration management systems using detention only in the absolute last resort.
No Detention Necessary Pilot Project
The No Detention Necessary Project has been piloting an innovative approach to detention alternatives. Based on the model of effective detention alternatives developed by the International Detention Coalition – the so-called Community Assessment and Placement model (CAP) – those leaving detention centers or threatened with detention, are offered support in the form of quasi-social work (case management), as well as legal and psychological counselling. Moreover, we endeavor to increase the involvement of the migrants covered by the program in the procedures that they participate in, improve their functioning at large and develop a long-term action plan with them, based on national legislation on migration. The first phase of the project was implemented between 2017 and 2019. The second phase was initiated in 2020 with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Association and the Border Police (details coming soon).
We invite newcomers who have been initiated or completed proceedings for obligation to return (including persons who have unsuccessfully applied for international protection) to cooperate within the project, and:
- were released from the detained center for migrants,
- are subject to obligations arising from alternative measures to detention, or
- managed to avoid placement in a detention center for migrants.
Support from the project may be granted (except in special cases) only to persons who are:
- capable of meeting their basic living needs, i.e. accommodation and board,
- likely to benefit from the case management support.
The support provided under the project shall include
- case management: providing information, intermediation between administrative authorities and migrants, assistance in dealing with current issues, joint development of crisis exit strategies, quasi-social work,
- legal advice,
- psychological support,
- translation support.
The project is implemented with funds from the Network of European Foundations under the European Program for Integration and Migration.