Briefing 
 

MEPs to take a stand on the detention and use of force against asylum seekers 

Recent declarations by the President of the European Council on the detention of asylum seekers will be debated with Council and Commission on Wednesday afternoon. The use of force against them will also be discussed. MEPs are likely to point out that EU rules already approved by the EU Council of Ministers, as well as by Parliament, require EU member states to keep detention as a measure of last resort, for a period as short as possible, and to respect asylum seekers’ fundamental rights.

Detailed common rules on the detention of asylum seekers while their applications are examined, including an exhaustive list of grounds for detention, are laid down in the "Reception Conditions Directive" - part of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) - approved by Parliament and the Council in 2013. These rules are designed to prevent arbitrary practices and keep detention periods as short as possible.


The detention of irregularly- staying third-country nationals until they are returned home is regulated by a separate legal instrument, the so-called "Returns Directive" (not part of the CEAS), approved by Parliament and Council in 2008.


Background

 

Under the Reception Conditions Directive, as a general rule, if asylum seekers are detained, then they must be placed in specialised detention facilities. However, if an EU country cannot provide accommodation in such facilities and is obliged to place the asylum seeker in a prison instead, (s)he will have to be kept separate from ordinary prisoners and given access to open-air spaces. Detained asylum seekers will also have to be given information explaining their rights and obligations in a language that they understand "or are reasonably supposed to understand".

 

Unaccompanied minors may be detained only "in exceptional circumstances" and must not be held in prisons. They must be placed in centres with staff and facilities suited to their needs and also kept separate from adults.


Procedure: Council and Commission statements followed by debate

Debate: Wednesday, 16 December


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