MEPs Report on Visit to Cloverhill

June 5, 2012 in 2005

Irish detention facilities for third country nationals are humane but the length of the detention and limitations on family rights are a cause for concern, say Irish MEPs who visited Cloverhill Detention Centre.
The visit of the MEPs was at the request of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) as part of their Europe-wide campaign to highlight the conditions of asylum seekers and irregular migrants who are detained throughout Europe. Fr John Dardis SJ, Irish Jesuit Provincial and former Director of JRS Europe, was at the prison to meet the delegation.
•        The main concern of MEPs was that asylum seekers and irregular migrants are being detained in a prison when they have not committed a crime.
•        A particular concern was the length of detention, with the average duration being between 30-50 days and the maximum 56 days.
•        Approximately 70% of the 110 foreign nationals detained in Cloverhill are there under the provisions of immigration legislation.
•        The MEPs commented on the fact that families were separated in detention; there is a family room for visits in Cloverhill but this is subject to a waiting list.
•        The MEPs’ overall impression was that Cloverhill facilities were humane and satisfactory.
•        They praised the staff in Cloverhill whom they considered to be committed to ensuring that the conditions of detention were as good as possible.
Fr John Dardis SJ said, “This visit underlines the need to establish an independent EU monitoring body to ensure that the conditions of detention for asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe are satisfactory and in line with human rights standards. Jesuit Refugee Service Europe has already called for this in its report Detention in Europe.”
Eugene Quinn, National Director of JRS Ireland stated, “JRS has concerns about the degree of discretion given to Gardai and Immigration Officers to detain people entering the country to seek asylum. The grounds on which a person may be detained include that they cannot prove their identity or that they are travelling with either no or false travel documents. But almost all asylum seekers are in this situation. The use of detention may therefore undermine their right to seek  asylum. JRS believes detention should be a measure of last resort and that more humane and much less costly alternatives should be explored such as bail, provision of a guarantor or a requirement to sign on regularly in a local Garda Station.”