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Immigration Detention Working Group Asia Pacific Regional Workshop

Workshop Report 23-24 October 2012, Bangkok

Immigration Detention Working Group Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network Bangkok

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This workshop report offers an outline of the main issues covered throughout the course of the two day regional workshop of the Immigration Detention Working Group (IDWG) of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN). The workshop was convened in collaboration with the International Detention Coalition (IDC), in Bangkok, October 2012.

The workshop was generously supported by the International Detention Coalition, and APRRN.

Thanks are owed to Grant Mitchell, Rakinder Reehal, Vivienne Chew, Brian Barbour, and Imran Khan, Danielle Grigsby and Anoop"Sukumaran for their assistance in the preparation of this report.

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1. Introduction 2. Background 3. Main themes Regional context: detention in Asia Pacific Mapping priority populations, roles, and capacity needs Site Visits Model and project development 4. Conclusion 5. Evaluation

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This report offers an outline of the main issues covered throughout the course of the two day regional workshop of the Immigration Detention Working Group, of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN). The workshop was convened in collaboration with the International Detention Coalition (IDC), in Bangkok, October 2012. The workshop, and the broader vision to end immigration detention in the Asia Pacific region, responds to the need to address the impacts of detention on refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, and to ensure the protection of their rights. To this end, the key objectives of the workshop were: 1. Developing alternatives to immigration detention and monitoring models in the region 2. Developing priorities, models and messages for regional protection Forty NGOs from twelve countries came together in Bangkok, developing alternatives to immigration detention, monitoring model plans, and building on the action plans developed together with the UNHCR Regional Office over the past eighteen months. Regional protection issues were also explored. A diverse selection of participants contributed to the discussions, and an overview of developments to date was made by Grant Mitchell (IDC), and Anoop Sukumaran (APRRN). The UNHCR Regional Office and IOM presented for the final session of the workshop. Ten national project plans were developed, focusing on priority populations affected by immigration detention (e.g. children, prolonged cases, stateless persons). See Appendix 3. The 2-year project plans focus particularly on developing mechanisms to prevent unnecessary immigration detention, community-based alternatives to detention, and detention monitoring models. Key roles, services, coordination, monitoring, and advocacy strategies were identified. Some of the key project plan focal points included: Developing alternatives to detention pilots for unaccompanied minors and vulnerable groups Developing good practice models for community reception and prevention of the immigration detention of children Undertaking mapping, monitoring and advocacy across the region Further developing the campaign to end the immigration detention of children

IDC and APRRN will incorporate these project plans into a broader regional work plan, identifying key capacity and resource priorities and activities required over the coming two years. UNHCR committed to supporting a regional immigration detention workshop in 2013. The workshop was generously supported and funded by IDC and APRRN.

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Civil society in the Asia Pacific region has been working consistently and collaboratively over the past 4 years through the Immigration Detention Working Group (IDWG) of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) to develop identified shared concerns, priorities and action plans at the national, sub-regional and national levels with a focus on two core goals:

1. Ending detention by encouraging release, alternatives and minimizing the use of detention 2. Improving conditions and protection and access to justice This work has emerged in response to the growing impact of immigration detention on refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants throughout the region. Simultaneously, there have been discussions about increasing protection bilaterally and through the Regional Cooperation Framework (RCF). The main aims of the workshop were thus to bring together members of APRRN and IDC who have worked actively on immigration detention and regional protection issues, as well as key stakeholders. It was envisaged that this would stimulate discussion around the topic, create a space for critical reflection, and more importantly engagement on effective solutions to end immigration detention in the region. The workshop enabled participants to begin the process of developing two year project plans to meet the two key objectives, in line with discussions and decisions made at the Asia Pacific Consultations on Refugee Rights (APCRR) 4 in Seoul, August, 2011. Finalised project plans encompass the agreed regional priorities over the course of the past 4 years which remain central to the projects to be developed at the sub-regional and national levels. The sessions were broken four sub-regional and thematic group break-out groups: Regional protection, South East Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. Attendees reviewed the IDCs 5 Step NGO Advocacy Guide on developing alternatives to immigration detention, which can be found here:, and completed an online Regional Capacity Building survey in advance of the workshop (See Appendix 2).

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Main Themes
Regional context: detention in Asia Pacific
The work of the Immigration Detention Working Group (IDWG) in the Asia Pacific has included regional, sub-regional, and national consultations, as well as capacity building and action planning activities. There have been four regional APCRR civil society consultations on immigration detention, one regional consultation in Bangkok (2010) on immigration detention with UNHCR, two sub-regional consultations in South East Asia (Thailand, 2010), and South Asia (Bangladesh, 2011), in addition to one regional civil society immigration detention workshop (Malaysia, 2011). IDWG has identified these core regional priorities: 1. Detention monitoring 2. Alternatives to Immigration Detention (ATD) 3. Campaign to end the immigration detention of children Within these priorities, the group has recognised sub-regional priorities for South East Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. South East Asia Advocating for new legislation to ensure safeguards, right to asylum, and release Ensuring existing legislation implements safeguards, protection, and alternatives to detention Strengthen and expand existing release opportunities and models South Asia East Asia Expanding the campaign to end child detention Developing ATD for prolonged detainees and vulnerable individuals Develop a detention monitoring model Mapping legal and administrative gaps, sensitization, and training Monitoring detention and fact finding Increasing access to justice and release

Detention analysis and project planning encompassed the following key activities during the workshop: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Prioritising key populations Protection needs analysis for target population Capacity and role analysis Site visits Model and project development

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Mapping priority populations, roles, and capacity needs

With a sound understanding of the regional and sub-regional situation on detention, the workshop moved forward to mapping who the priority populations were. Step one The regional group and the sub-regional groups discussed their concerns about how detention is used, which group is most vulnerable in immigration detention, and which group the government may be more open to exploring ATD for. The activity resulted in the identification of three target groups. Step two The second step was to carry out a protection needs analysis, considering the particular protection needs of the priority groups identified, the issues which that group may face both in detention and in the community, and the support required to prevent or address these issues. The activity resulted in the identification of protection gaps for the target groups. Step three Once the key protection gaps were identified, the third step was to carry out a capacity and role analysis. The discussion focused on identifying key stakeholders for addressing protection gaps, who is currently working on those issues and providing which services, and what additional resources would be needed to fill the protection gaps (local, national, regional, or international). The activity resulted in the identification key stakeholders.

Target groups and protection gaps

Target Groups South East Asia 1. Children (UAM) Protection Gaps In detention: access to healthcare, access to education, separation from adult relatives, protection from abuse, protection from being sold into adoption, long-term psychological care, access to justice and legal representation, access to play, adequate nutrition. In the community: access to healthcare, education, legal guardianship, poor accommodation, arrest, harassment, limited freedom of movement, vulnerability to exploitation, child labour. 2. Physical/ mental illness In detention: Lack of screening upon detention. Thailand has process for reporting & seeking medical assistance, on site and on call care. Referrals to off-site psychologist, but language barriers. Indonesia has a visiting doctor once a week, no oncall care, and to the discretion of staff when help is sought. Malaysia has no unfettered access to medical care. All down to the discretion of the staff, other detainees provide care. (" "

In the community: similar issues. Varying degrees of access depending on location, NGO support, resources, community organization. Little support for chronic illness. 3. Prolonged detention South Asia 1. Children (UAM) Legal aid, access to interpreters, medical care, psychosocial support, access to education, forced labour, sexual exploitation, social stigma, adequate nutrition. Vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation, harassment, poor healthcare, psychosocial support, social stigma, adequate nutrition. Lack of adequate healthcare of nutrition, prolonged detention, indefinite detention, lack of access to refugee protection mechanisms. Funding, psychological counseling, unlimited discretion, judicial review, adequate detention facilities, access to detainees, shelters, caseworkers, ID cards, legal aid providers, interpreters, special protection systems for UAM and vulnerable people, family unity, access to asylum at airport, security.

2. Women

3. Stateless

East Asia

1. Children (UAM) 2. Torture survivors 3. Prolonged/ airport cases

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Key Stakeholders
Groups discussed which stakeholders were most/ least influential and most/least supportive.

South East Asia

Most influential
Enforcement, immigration, embassies, department of social affairs, home minister, ministry of health, local government, UNICEF, royalty, media, SUHAKAM

UNHCR, IOM, INGOs, SUAKA, JRS, Media, Special Rapporteurs & UN Mechanisms, CBOs, NHCR, enforcement, religious groups

Most supportive

Least supportive
UNHCR, online media, advocacy NGOs, service NGOs Mainstream media, welfare, women, and childrens ministry

Least influential

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South Asia

Most influential

Judiciary, celebrities, NGOs, UNHCR, Media, political parties, parliamentary standing committees, lawyers, NHRC, army

Army, home office, ministry of law and justice, media, police, political parties

Most supportive

Least supportive
Religious leaders, NHRC

Religious leaders

Least influential

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East Asia

Most influential

APRRN in Taiwan, Civil Society, MPs, Media in Korea, UNHCR, JFBA, JLNK, Japan MOJ, KBA, Media in Japan, Japan General Public

Japan MOJ, Korea MOJ, Japan MOFA, KBA, Media in Japan, Korea General Public, Japan General Public

Most supportive

Least supportive



Least influential

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Site Visits
Participants divided into three groups to attend afternoon site visits to the offices of Asylum Access Thailand, Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific, and Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation. The aim of the site visits was to encourage creative and original thinking on the issues faced in different regions, and to provide participants with the opportunity to practically apply the issues that have been discussed. Participants reported that it was powerful to see the work that is being undertaken, learn about the processes which enable this, and to hear personal stories. Here is a brief description of each organization and what the visit entailed: Asylum Access Thailand provides legal counsel and representation to refugees seeking asylum in refugee status determination proceedings conducted by the UN refugee agency. Clients come from over 20 different countries. While the majority are from Sri Lanka and Pakistan, there are also clients from Iraq, Somalia, Iran, Viet Nam, Cote dIvoire, and many other countries. To address the critical need for legal aid in dozens of languages, AAT also train refugees as legal interpreters. Participants were able to meet with interpreters who are refugees, and reported that they were struck by the lack of domestic protection mechanisms.

Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific has a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS undertakes services at national and regional levels with the support of an international office in Rome. Thirty years after the genesis of JRS Asia Pacific, the work has grown to assist forcibly displaced persons in eight countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. Participants reported on a successful visit which included meeting with the Country Director for Thailand, the legal services team, and receiving a briefing on the urban refugee project. Attendees were also able to meet 6 refugees.

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Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation has a mission to promote and protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Thailand and in the ASEAN region. The areas of focus for TCR are health care, education, income generation/livelihood, legal status and documentation, and policy and legal advocacy. TCR undertakes local, regional, and national advocacy.

Photos used with permission from Thai Committee for Refugees (TCR)

Model and project development

Priority project plans were then developed, and these are outlined in Appendix 3.

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APRRN and the IDC remain committed to providing opportunities for civil society actors to work together strategically with the aim at reducing and eventually ending immigration detention as a standard and growing practice in the Asia Pacific Region. APRRN and IDC will work together to follow-up with the various sub-regional and country-specific project plans, providing opportunities for attendees to reconvene and follow-up on strategic advocacy, campaign, project and capacity building iniatiatives. For more information, or to join the Immigration Detention Working Group, please contact the APRRN Secretariat at

Participant Evaluation

Evaluation was sent after the close of conference in electronic form. We received a 41% response rate, significantly higher than statistically average for online, post-conference survey, thus maintaining its relevance as a reflection on overall conference perception. Overall, the faciliation and training methods used and workshop value received an 87% satisfaction rate. Select participant comments: It helps each person to think strategically and make an achievable/realistic action plan. Since we encounter the incidences of immigration detention quite often, the knowledge and skills gained during this workshop would be extremely useful for our own work at domestic context. The workshop has motivated me to speak up against detention and hope my colleagues will join in the fight.

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