Advocating Against Refugee Detention in Africa

This October, Asylum Access Tanzania co-hosted the International Detention Coalition’s Africa Regional Workshop at our office in Dar es Salaaam. Aimed at improving immigration detention practices across the continent, our participation represents an important step for our work in Tanzania, which also includes refugee detention issues.

Immigration detention is a real concern for our refugee clients.  According to Asylum Access’s 2011 report No Place Called Home, nearly 40% of AATZ’s clients reported being detained, often more than once. Many others reported living in fear of arrest and detention. Workshops like these represent a great opportunity for us to improve our response to these issues while learning about the approaches used by other organizations elsewhere.

Last year, the International Detention Coalition (IDC), a global network of over 250 organizations advocating for the human rights of immigration detainees, organized its first African regional workshop in South Africa. This year, Asylum Access Tanzania had the opportunity to host the second regional workshop, in conjunction with the IDC, at our office in Dar es Salaam. Stakeholders, government officials and organizations from East and Southern Africa came together to explore ways to respond more effectively to immigration detention.

For Asylum Access Tanzania, the three-day workshop presented an exciting opportunity to build relationships with organizations in the region, share best practices and most importantly, to think about ways we can address refugee detention issues across the region. Workshop sessions were focused on finding alternatives to immigration detention. This included discussions on region-specific issues, such as the trends in migration from the Horn of Africa down to South Africa and the psychosocial effects of detention on immigrants, particularly that of children.

A special thanks goes out to departing AATZ VLA Ben Lewis and the IDC’s Regional Coordinator for Middle East & Africa, Lucy Bowring, for their tireless efforts in putting together a fantastic workshop. We could not have done it without you!

Published November 2012