[ 18. Jul 2009 ]

Protests Against Detention Centres

destruction des centres de retention

Notes from a workshop at the Calais Noborder Camp about Resistamce against Detention Centresin which activists talked about the situation in different countries.


Althought forms of detention centres and length of immigration detention differs in different countries, there are some similarities. Some of the detention centres are run by private companies, but all have the bad conditions under which the detainees live in common : No legal support, hardly any medical care and racism are typical for immigration detention. However, wherever people are kept in immigration detention we find resistance. While most of the protest from outside the detention centres is rather symbolic, real effectiv resistance happens from inside, although its often isolated and invisible from outside. Activists from the UK reported that the resistance inside detention centres was ignored by the political movements for a long time. Many people of the radical movement do not know anything about it or tend to ignore it.

Activists reported from the campaign to close Campsfield detention centre in the UK which continues for almost 15 years now. One activist described the situation inside detention as "the worst in europe", however, this might be subjectiv and people in other countries might feel the same. Activists from London reported that they organised several protests against detention centres including a support campaign for those migrants who were charged because of protest inside detention centres.

Most detention centres in the UK are run by private companies and racism is very common in the the security staff. Several new detention centres are being build to increase the places in the centres from 2500-4500. There is no maximum length of detention in the UK and cases of people are known who stayed in detention centres for 2 years.

In the Netherlands activists organised many protests against deportations and detention centres such as roof occupations and blockades, in the last years, but still the situation in the centres are mostly unknown to people who live in the neighbourhoods of those.

There are currently 4 detention centres in Belgium, a fifth is under construction. International convention about how detainees should be treated are often ignored and legal and medical support is hard to find, even visits are hardly possible. The repression in detention increase especially after revolts. Some migrants were detained for 2 years and violent deportations are reported. Activists from Belgium described the security staff as very racist. However, support groups exist in all cities with detention centres

In June 2008 the biggest detention centre in France, Vincennes with a capacity of 290 people, was completely destroyed in a revolt. Many detainees now face prosecution. Activists reported from coordinated actions from within and outside the detention centres. New detention centres to replace Vincennes are being planned. There are efforts to build a more effectiv network to support people in detention. As in other countries access to legal support is very difficult, hungerstrikes and cases were people hurt themselves to avoid deportation are very common. In the following discussion some people criticised that some campaigns focus on children in detention which distracted from a general criticism of immigration detention. Some people stated that it would be good to connect the protest against immigration detention with protest against prisons in general but agreed that this is not an easy task. As in example some people said that slogans like "migrants are not criminals" has to be rephrased and instead a general criticism of the term "crime" would be necessary for such a campaign. People agreed that a much better networking between campaigns is necessary and more effort to support resistance inside the detention centre is necessary.

There will be a conference in barcelona from October 1st to 4th, concentrating on struggles against detention centres all around europe. There is a callout in different language in

Further information against detention Centres :

United Kingdom

Austria :

French : Contact to Vicennes Support : liberte-sans-papiers

Holland :

Italy :

Source ::, 29. Jun 2009