On May 30th and 31st, JRS country offices working on the “Detention under the Spotlight” project met in Brussels to share updates about the work of visiting migration detention at the national level, evaluate the joint work so far and discuss the next steps to take in the joint project.
During the meeting, participants shared concerns about the detrimental impact that detention has on people, which is especially exacerbated in cases of extended periods of detention. Lack of information on the reasons for detention, possible ways to challenge it and the expected duration of the imprisonment further worsen the harm to people’s mental health as well as limit access to their rights.
For these reasons, access to justice, including access to legal aid, was chosen as the topic to research for the next joint report. The previous report, “Visiting migrants in detention, how it is and how it should be”, already illustrated how often JRS detention visitors play a crucial role in informing detainees about their rights and bridging them and their legal representatives. Therefore, informed by Detention Visitors, JRS will be in the perfect position to spotlight the obstacles detainees face in accessing justice and suggest concrete solutions and recommendations.
Finally, the partners evaluated the collaboration under the project so far as valuable and positive. Thanks to the exchanges fostered by the project, there is now a higher awareness in the network about the important size of our JRS common knowledge and expertise in visiting detention and how this can be used for advocacy work. Partners found the first joint report as a strong expression of the JRS point of view on visiting people in detention. This activity cannot be given for granted and is often under threat of being restricted. The report gives JRS a good tool to continue advocating for the right of people to receive visits and to insist with authorities be allowed to accompany people in detention.