Topic Submissions

Migration Control and Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers – Motivations, Rationale and Challenges

  • Šárka Dušková


Detention of migrants in Europe has become an increasingly common measure to deal with the growing number of people crossing EU borders seeking asylum. Detention is presented as a rational response to the need for ‘border control’ despite the growing international and European jurisprudence and campaigns calling for a more careful and restrained approach to its use. Especially in some of the EU member states, the disparity between international legal standards and the almost automatic use of detention of an irregular migrant or asylum seeker is a cause for attention. The article first offers an overview of the relevant legal standards for detention of migrants and complements this with relevant data about its practical use. Drawing on previous work in this area, the author suggests that there are various complementary motivations for the use of detention of migrants. As only the practical motive can be the one to justify detention formally and legally, the article offers an analysis of rationality of the use of detention vis-à-vis the known alternatives. The predominance of different kinds of alternatives in the EU to detention is also explored. The article concludes with the suggestion that to fulfil all state motivations for the use of detention, the introduction of a range of alternatives complemented with the change of discourse may in fact be a rational move for states.