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Key Words Archives: Last resort

Saadi v. United Kingdom, ECtHR, Application No. 13229/03, Judgment of 29 January 2008

The Court recalled that it is a fundamental principle that no detention which is arbitrary can be compatible with Article 5 § 1 ECHR and the notion of ‘arbitrariness’ in Article 5 § 1 extends beyond lack of conformity with national law, so that a deprivation of liberty may be lawful in terms of domestic law but still arbitrary and thus contrary to the Convention. To avoid being branded as arbitrary, therefore, detention under Article 5 § 1 (f) must be carried out in good faith; it must be closely connected to the purpose of preventing unauthorised entry of the person to the country; the place and conditions of detention should be appropriate; and the length of the detention should not exceed that reasonably required for the purpose pursued.

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CJEU, Bashir Mohamed Ali Mahdi case, Case no. C-146/14 PPU, 5 June 2014

The CJEU said that immigration related detention is justified only in order to prepare the return or carry out the removal process and if the application of less coercive measures would not be sufficient. Only the judicial authority should deal with the decisions concerning the detention of a third-country national (for example an extension) and it should do so following a thorough assessment of all relevant facts and circumstances in the individual case.

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CJEU, Hassen El Dridi case, Case no. C-61/11 PPU, 28 April 2011

The CJEU found that the Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Members States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals must be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation which provides for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed on an illegally staying third-country national on the sole ground that they remain, without valid grounds, on the territory of that State, contrary to an order to leave that territory within a given period.

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General comment No. 5 (2021) of the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) on migrants’ rights to liberty, freedom from arbitrary detention and their connection with other human rights (advanced unedited version)

The UN Committee in its General Comment understands as ‘alternatives to detention’ all community-based care measures or non-custodial accommodation solutions – in law, policy or practice – that are less restrictive than detention and which must be considered in the context of lawful detention decision procedures to ensure that detention is necessary and proportionate in all cases, with the aim of respecting the human rights and avoiding arbitrary detention of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons.

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Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH), Practical Guidance on Alternatives to Immigration Detention: Fostering Effective Results

This Practical Guidance was adopted by the Steering Committee for Human Rights of the Council of Europe at its 91st meeting (18-21 June 2019). Its main focus is on the practical aspects of applying alternatives to detention, considering also the fact that in this field a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not possible. The Guidance covers the legal framework of the alternatives to detention system, the types of alternatives and the ways to make them effective.

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