Information by countries

For many years now, the use of administrative detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe is increasing.

EU policy is quite well defined. Harmonised legislation in the 28 EU Member States provides for common minimum standards, which refer to: the reception of asylum seekers, the asylum procedure, the qualification of persons for refugee and subsidiary protection, and the identification of the responsible EU Member State for examining an asylum claim.

After five years of negotiations, the Parliament and the Council adopted in 2008 common standards for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals. This legislation articulates how EU Member States should detain illegally staying third-country nationals within the context of return to the country or origin.

In recent years the Council of Europe has adopted reports and positions as regards immigration detention in Europe. The European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) provides for a precious legal framework, which is enforced by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).  The rulings of the ECtHR have had a big impact on the manner in which EU member states detain immigrants.

Laws and practices vary from country to country. This page provides country-by-country information on detention.  Most information is obtained from JRS national offices. In countries where JRS is not present, information is obtained from the most recent projects and reports, in particular, Becoming Vulnerable in Detention (the "DEVAS" project).

For more information visit the websites (country reports) of



Newly updated

Austria Estonia Ireland Netherlands Spain
Belgium Finland Italy Poland Sweden
Bulgaria France Latvia Portugal United Kingdom
Cyprus Germany Lithuania Romania Croatia
Czech Republic Greece Luxembourg Slovakia
Denmark Hungary Malta Slovenia




This page was last updated on 24/11/2014