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Externalisation of the European migration policy into the Balkans: when delegating makes imprisonment easier

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Map posted the 2015/12/07



  • Balkans : when “enlargement” rhymes with “confinement” Balkans : when “enlargement” rhymes with “confinement”


From 2006 to 2013, the number of detention centres for foreigners has doubled and their capacity has multiplied by four, as shown by the analysis of ten Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia). This remarkable growth results from a coordinated action by the European institutions which aim at delegating the management of migrants to the Balkan countries.

Between 2006 and 2016, the process of EU enlargement moves forward in the Balkans with three countries joining the EU, and two being reclassified to the status of EU Accession Countries. At the same time, the known number of facilities intended for detaining migrants doubles: the installation of these detention centres in the Balkans is the product of the conditions set by the European institutions in the pre-accession process as well as of funding opportunities offered by European programmes.

In the Balkans, these facilities are entirely operated by the different countries’ Ministries of the Interior. The euphemisms which qualify them are another point they have in common. Yet, how these places operate resembles more imprisonment rather than reception: the architecture of the buildings often corresponds to a standard plan with features that are specific to prison settings. The same applies to the functions of these facilities: the administrative review procedure for the purpose of arranging the permission to enter EU-territory and/or the organisation of the deportation, mostly back to the country of origin. Finally, these places are often the stages of fundamental rights violations, as evidenced by the reports of the Council of Europe Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT) as well as by events such as hunger strikes or riots which take place on a regular basis.



Date(s) of publication: 29/05/2015
Author(s): Morgane Dujmovic
Credits: Migreurop