Alternatives to detention



JRS Malta

According to the amended Reception Regulations, when a detention order of an asylum seeker is not taken, alternatives to detention may applied for non-vulnerable applicants when the risk of absconding still exists.1 These alternatives to detention foreseen in the Regulations are the same as the ones listed in the Directive, namely the possibility to report to a police station, to reside at an assigned place, to deposit or surrender documents or to place a one-time guarantee or surety. These measures would not exceed 9 months.2

Following the transposition of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, concerns were expressed by NGOs that alternatives to detention could be imposed when no ground for detention is found to exist.3 The wording of the legislation and the Strategy Document seem to imply that alternatives to detention may apply in all those cases where detention is not resorted to, including those cases where there are no grounds for the detention of the asylum seeker. This goes against the letter and the spirit of the Directive where alternatives to detention should only be applied in those cases where there are grounds for detention.

NGOs’ concerns proved to be true, as in 2016, several persons were released from detention after 2 months and placed under alternatives to detention without any ground to extend the detention as they had already applied for protection and provided all the required information.

According to the authorities, 5 asylum seekers in 2016 were released from detention and placed under alternatives to detention. They were requested to report regularly at the police station, to reside at an assigned place and to deposit some of their documents.4

There are no available statistics on compliance rates.

  • 1. Strategy Document, November 2015, 26.
  • 2. Regulation 6(8) Reception Regulations.
  • 3. aditus foundation, et al., NGO Input on the Draft Strategy Document: Strategy for the Reception of Asylum-Seekers and Irregular Migrants, November 2015; available at:
  • 4. Information provided by Neville Xuereb, Snr Superintendent Immigration Police, 26 January 2017.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti