Equal Rights Beyond Borders and Diakonie Deutschland hosted a conference on immigration detention on the Greek island of Kos from 8-10 June 2023. The conference brought together nearly 100 legal practitioners, academics, NGO representatives, activists and a number of funders supporting work across Europe to discuss detention practices, policies and legal frameworks. There were a series of country focused and thematic presentations, as well as information sharing sessions.
Idel Hanley, Policy, Research and Parliamentary Manager at Medical Justice, presented at the conference about the harmful impact of immigration detention. The presentation focused on the deterioration in detention, the limited healthcare provisions, and how deterioration occurs for both those with and without pre-existing vulnerabilities.
The conference was held in Kos as it sits at Europe’s external border and has detention facilities on the island: the Closed Controlled Access Center (CCAC) and the only remaining Pre-Removal Detention Center (PRDC) on the Greek islands. Both sites have prison-like conditions with strict curfews, restricted movement, surveillance and extremely limited access to healthcare and legal aid.
Throughout the conference, it was clear that many of the most hostile and harmful detention policies and practices are replicated across Europe. The parallels between detention practices included the lack of access to legal advice, de facto detention in sites that are not necessarily designated as detention, and a lack of adequate healthcare.
It was a timely conference with the increasing criminalisation and incarceration of asylum seekers, as detention is becoming the norm, rather than the exception, across the UK and Europe.