Many thousands of asylum-seekers are detained in Europe every year. The 1951 Refugee Convention states that refugees should not be punished on account of irregular entry. Detention should be left as a last resort, yet it is often employed for long periods of time, in centres ill-suited to the numbers of individuals they shelter and where conditions can be appalling and inhumane. The problems faced can include overcrowding, lack of hygiene, and insufficient clothing or food provisions. In some extreme cases there have been allegations of illtreatment and abuse by officials.
Nonetheless, detention continues to be used as a means of ensuring that asylum-seekers remain available while their claim is assessed. Indeed, in some cases it is seen as the only option available to ensure that they can be removed efficiently in the event that their claim is rejected. The right to liberty is a fundamental human right, as is the right to seek asylum, and the act of seeking asylum should not be considered as a ground for detention of applicants.