In this article, I Have Rights team member Ellen Allde demonstrates that the Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) on Samos is a site of unlawful de facto detention of people on the move. Allde develops Gayatri Spivak’s concept of ‘sanctioned ignorance’ to consider how the constant changes and prolonged waiting in the CCAC contribute to and exacerbate the undignified conditions of detention.

While this concept was originally used to describe the silencing and hence, disavowal, of colonised populations’ counter-narratives in history and political theory, Allde here shows how the detention of asylum seekers in the CCAC is constituted by “weaponis[ing] an unknown”. The CCAC is situated within the particular legacy of bordering Europe and practices that seek to control and conceal experiences of detention. In particular, the author focuses on:

  • The sudden changes of rules regarding entry or exit in the CCAC, food provision, asylum interview dates, and the cumulative impact on the facility’s population.
  • The prolonged wait times people are subjected to for asylum appointments, interpreters, food, medical support, and entry and exit from the CCAC.
  • The lack of information provided to people living inside the CCAC regarding reasons for changes in rules or long waiting times.
  • The challenges which legal NGOs and lawyers face in advocating against detention.

Ignorance, assumed by the authorities and projected onto people on the move, constitutes another tool for the authorities to exert control over them.

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The article was supported by funds of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Office in Greece.