The objective of the DEVAS project was to investigate and analyse vulnerability in detained asylum seekers and
irregular migrants: both the way in which pre-existing vulnerable groups cope with detention, and the way in which detention can enable vulnerability in persons who do not otherwise possess officially recognised vulnerabilities and special needs.

In partnership with NGOs in 23 EU Member States, JRS-Europe oversaw the collection of 685 one-on-one interviews with detainees. The size and scope of the sample reveals that, despite the diversity of personal circumstances of the detainees, detention does have a common negative effect upon the persons who experience it. In addition to detainees, project partners interviewed detention centre staff and other NGOs operating within the centres, and conducted a survey of asylum and immigration laws in their respective countries. This data is included within each of the 22 national reports that are published in the full DEVAS report.

This study builds on previous reports and projects that investigated vulnerability in detention. It analyses the situation of individuals and groups that possess officially recognised special needs, such as minors, young women with children, the elderly and persons with medical illness. But this study also analyses the situation of detainees who often go unnoticed: young single men, persons without stated physical and mental health needs, and persons in prolonged detention. Most importantly, this study pushes the discussion on vulnerability and detention one step further because its results are based exclusively on the voices of detainees. Thus the understanding of vulnerability that emerges from this study characterises the experiences of detainees as they told it themselves.

Full report here: JRS-Europe_BecomingVulnerableInDetention June 2010