Debrief: CONTENTION Final Conference

The ‘CONTENTION’ (CONtrol of DeTENTION) project’s final conference took place at the Fondation Universitaire in Brussels on the 12th of December last. The project, which was co-funded by the European Union in the framework of the European Return Fund, convened the final conference to present its research results and to further discuss the implications of the research. The programme for the final conference can be found here.

Before gathering for the final conference, the project’s completed questionnaires, which were written by the national experts in collaboration with the national judges, were uploaded to the CONTENTION website. Those questionnaires are available here. The project’s synthesis report was also uploaded and is available here.

The final conference attracted a large number of practitioners, academics, officials from the EU institutions and representatives of NGOs whom were interested to hear the presentation of CONTENTION’s research results by the project’s coordination team and by the national experts and judges involved. The opening session, which was chaired by Professor Henri Labayle, included a presentation of the findings of the project’s results by Professor Philippe De Bruycker. The next session, entitled ‘The Three Dimensions of Lawfulness in the Control of Immigration Detention’, examined the Article 5(1) jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the Return Directive itself and the role of national judges. That session included the presentation of the project’s final synthesis report by Dr Sergo Mananashvili. Judge Aindrias Ó Caoimh provided an insight into the ‘view from Luxembourg.’

The following session was entitled the ‘Organisation of Judicial Control and (Best) Practices.’ That session considered judicial control types in each of the participating Member States and examined best practise therein. Assistant Professor David Kosař presented an introductory report in this regard. The final session of the day was chaired by Professor Elspeth Guild and that session considered the ‘Power of Judges Within the Control of Immigration Detention.’ The introductory report for that session was presented by Assistant Professor Galina Cornelisse. In this context, views were taken from Bulgaria (Dr. Valeria Ilareva), the UK (Professor Daniel Wilsher) and the Netherlands (Senior Judge, John Bouwman). Professor De Bruycker again spoke in order to draw some conclusions from the day’s proceedings and thanked attendees and participants for making a positive contribution to the lively discussions which accompanied each of the day’s sessions. Professor De Bruycker also thanked the national experts and judges for their efforts in making the project such a success and the Commission for their invaluable assistance with the project.

The previous day, on December 11th, national judges and experts and the coordination team gathered for the kick off meeting for the ‘REDIAL’ (Return DIALogue) project. The REDIAL project will build upon the foundations provided by the ‘CONTENTION’ project but it will go beyond contemplation of judicial control of pre-removal detention and will explore the implementation of the Return Directive in every Member State in which it is enforced.