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For asylum seekers as well as those already on EU territory whose applications for international protection or residence permits have been rejected, detention too often remains the default solution. At the same time, the majority of EU Member States provide for the possibility of alternatives to detention. This FRA paper discusses a number of such alternatives, and lists a number of legal and other instruments together with the general human rights and EU legal framework.

Making use of the many alternatives to detention is of advantage both to the hosting state and migrants, as on the one hand they are more cost-effective and on the other they are less intrusive and more respectful of fundamental rights. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, alternatives are far less expensive than detention, not only in the short term but also when it comes to longer-term costs associated with detention, such as the impact on health services or on the integration of migrants into EU society.

The first section of the paper covers the international framework that safeguards the right to liberty, while the following sections focus specifically on alternatives to detention as follows:

  • Selected instruments on the right to liberty
  • Selected non-binding United Nations instruments on alternatives to detention
  • Selected non-binding Council of Europe instruments on alternatives to detention
  • Selected European Union law provisions relating to alternatives to detention
  • Selected case law from the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the EU and the United Nations Human Rights Committee on alternatives to detention
  • Recently developed tools
  • Selected research publications

This paper is part of FRA’s ongoing work in the area of asylum, migration and borders