Immigration detention has been shown to negatively affect the health and well-being of detainees. The aim of the study was to describe and compare policies and practices that could affect the health and well-being of immigrant detainees in the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) to those in Sweden.
This was a case study. Data were collected in two phases using a questionnaire developed particularly for this study. In the first phase, authorities in the Benelux countries responded to the questionnaire via email. During the second phase, a research team visited detention centres in the Benelux countries to observe and further explore, strengthening findings through triangulation. Data on Swedish detention centres were collected in previous studies.
Compared to the Benelux countries, Sweden has limited health care provision available in the detention centres. Swedish detention centres did not have mental health care professionals working at the centres and had fewer restrictions within the centres with regard to access to mobile phone, internet, and various recreational activities. Compared to Sweden, the detention centres in the Benelux countries have more staff categories providing services to the detainees that are provided with relevant and timely on-the-job training. All the countries, except Belgium, provide subsistence allowances to detainees.
Despite the Common European Asylum System framework, differences exist among the four European Union member states in providing services to immigrant detainees. This study highlights these differences, thereby providing a window on how these diverse approaches may serve as a learning tool for improving services offered to immigrant detainees. In Sweden, the health care available to detainees and training and recruitment of staff should be improved, while the Benelux countries should strive to reduce restrictions within detention centres.