Immigration Detention Working Group (IDWG): Terms of Reference

Immigration Detention Working Group (IDWG)

Terms of Reference

Mission Statement: The Working Group on Immigration Detention of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) aims to work together for the rights, dignity and well being of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in detention. Core position: The Working Group on Immigration Detention has a core position regarding the detention of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. ·      

1. The detention of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants should be avoided. ·       

2. Certain groups – such as pregnant or lactating women, children, survivors of torture and trauma, elderly persons, the disabled or those with special health needs– should not be placed in detention. ·       

3. Children should not be detained, should not be separated from their caregivers and should be provided special provision for their general wellbeing. ·      

 4. Alternatives that ensure rights, dignity and wellbeing should be considered and pursued before detention, such as supervised release, regular reporting requirements or posting bail. ·       

5. Governments should, in compliance with international and regional human rights standards, only detain in circumstances where alternatives have been assessed as not sufficient, only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time. ·       

6. Any decision to detain must be subject to regular independent judicial review and the time period must be reasonable, ensuring no one is subject to arbitrary or indefinite detention. ·      

7. Conditions of detention must comply with basic minimum human rights standards, and there must be regular independent monitoring of places of detention. ·       

8. Governments that host refugees in closed refugee camps should move from policies of encampment towards policies that encourage alternatives other than detention and allow refugees to have freedom of movement and ensure their rights, dignity and wellbeing are upheld in the community.

Key areas of concern: 1.     Impact of detention on vulnerable populations: Refugees, torture and trauma survivors, stateless persons, children, women at risk, elderly, disabled persons and individuals with physical and mental illness, long-term detainees etc. 2.     Lack of detention standards, transparency, access to places of detention, release options and alternatives to detention in the region. (For further details see Appendix 2 for meeting notes) Key objective: ·       Aim to achieve increased release from detention of vulnerable groups, including children and families, by better sharing of information, best practice, strategies and targeted advocacy, including government engagement. Actions: Based on initial discussions at the AP Conference on Refugee Rights, the following areas were identified as possible actions to be explored further by the Working Group: 1) At the local level to share information, experiences, best practice and advocacy strategies to assist us in our work on the ground and develop a web-page with the International Detention Coalition’s assistance, and aim to hold a regional training on detention concerns before the next consultation. 2) On a regional level we aim to explore a number of advocacy strategies, including to develop a core position of concern on detention in the region and best practice examples, particularly on children and release options, which could be used for community education and to raise this statement directly with relevant bodies at the international level and at the regional level. Steering Committee: As per the decision-making process of the APCRR, the current Steering Committee includes: Grant Mitchell (Chair) and Vivienne Chiew (Deputy Chair). Members: The working group shall include participants of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Consultations who have indicated interest and others approved by the APRRN Steering Committee. The working group members shall not be identified in any public statement. The main form of communication shall be through email and web-page forums, with an aim to meet formally at the annual Asia Pacific Consultations on Refugee Rights.

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