As part of our on-going efforts to increase our capacity, on 26 and 27 March Claire (Legal Officer) was in Brussels to attend a two-day workshop on monitoring immigration detention organised by the Flemish Refugee Action and the International Detention Coalition (aditus foundation is one of IDC’s Malta members).
The aim of the workshop was to strengthen civil society monitoring of immigration by sharing experiences, challenges and positive practices. The agenda was structured around the publication of ‘Monitoring Immigration Detention: A Practical Manual‘ published last year by Association for the Prevention of Torture, UNHCR and IDC.
The workshop was open exclusively to NGOs who have access to and regularly visit places of immigration detention to conduct monitoring. Around 30 participants. Among the NGOs attending : Estonian Human Rights Centre, France Terre d’Asile, Caritas International, JRS, Hungarian Helsinki Committee…
The workshop focused on three elements:
- How to develop a monitoring strategy
- How to conduct a monitoring visit
- How to do the follow-up of a monitoring visit
Developing a monitoring strategy
A former member of the Swiss National Commission for the Prevention of Torture introduced the practical manual and shared the experiences of the Swiss NPM’s monitoring of immigration detention.
Conducting a monitoring visit
The coordinator for IDC introduced the different methodologies to prepare and conduct a visit. Participants also worked in groups focusing on three challenges when conducting a visit: how to balance monitoring with individual case work, how to effectively monitor with volunteers and how to respect confidentiality).
Four NGOs (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Defence for Children, Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Belgian Visitors Group) also presented their own monitoring programmes and tools, in order to share and exchange very practical experiences.
Following-up on a monitoring visit
The IDC coordinator introduced the theoretical overview of an internal follow-up (debriefings in team, internal reports, analysis of data, etc.). Participants then divided into groups to work on different subjects, including how to make effective recommendations, how to coordinate with other monitoring bodies and how to analyse data collected during monitoring. Four NGOs (France Terre d’Asile, JRS Romania, Menedek, ASGI) also presented their own advocacy strategies and tools.
This workshop was a very instructive and participatory event and a great opportunity to share experiences with other NGOs. Workshop outcomes will be presented in an online briefing paper with tips and advice for NGOs conducting monitoring of immigration detention.