Last week Alice Gerlach wrote for the Border Criminologies blog about the two-day conference at the Council of Europe, ‘Immigration Detention in Europe: Establishing Common Concerns and Developing Minimum Standards.’ Since then, members of HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) working with other National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs), have put together a Draft Standards Framework for the Treatment of Immigration Detainees. The document, which may be freely reproduced, can be found here.

The Council of Europe Agora Building, where the two-day meeting was held.
Drawing on discussions among the delegates, as well as existing international standards, the draft standards framework is divided into nine fields:
  1. Detention, Status Determination and Prevention of Torture
  2. Transfers and Arrival
  3. Treatment of Detainees and Conditions of Detention
  4. Safety, Order and Discipline
  5. Diversity
  6. Health Care
  7. Activities
  8. Welfare, Resettlement, Removal and Release
  9. External Inspection

Various sub-fields are set out within each of these broad areas. For example, under the first topic, ‘Detention, Status Determination and Prevention of Torture,’ the draft standards include statements of ‘Equality before the law’ and ‘Detention only to be used as a last resort and for the minimum period necessary.’ Likewise, under the rubric of ‘Diversity,’ the document lays out standards for ‘Eliminating discrimination’ as well as advice about  the particular needs and vulnerabilities of ‘women,’ ‘Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex detainees.’ There are further sections on ‘religion’, ‘race and nationality,’ ‘Children’, ‘Older detainees,’ and ‘Detainees with disabilities.’

Coming in at an impressive 17 pages, the draft standards reveal areas already protected by local and international law, as well as identifying some enduring gaps. Surprisingly, for instance, under ‘Healthcare,’ there is no citation of any international statute or protections guaranteeing  that ‘medication is easily available as prescribed or required, appropriately and securely stored, and discarded if beyond its expiration date.’

The draft standards make an impressive, albeit depressing, list. Like all such endeavours, some things are still missing. It would be good to include an insistence on the collation and publication of statistics in the management of detention, for example. Not everyone may agree with the mix and organisation of topics either. However, as a goal, aiming for unilateral basic standards in a system committed to confinement offers at least one way of mitigating practices that all too often fail to meet basic expectations of humanity.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style):

Border Criminologies (2013) Draft Standards Framework for the Treatment of Immigration Detainees. Available at: (Accessed [date]).