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Conditions in guarded centres for foreigners

Media sources report that foreigners detained in several guarded centres operated by the Border Guards have gone on hunger strikes. “We were really concerned to hear that. We, surely, will be monitoring the conditions in these centres”, says Karolina Rusiłowicz, a lawyer of the Programme of Legal Assistance for Refugees and Migrants, HFHR.

Foreigners are mainly protesting against the conditions in these centres, involving such issues as access to information in a language they can understand, proper medical and psychiatric assistance, access to education for their kids, contact with external world, attitude of officers employed at the centre.

Their demands are, to a large extent, consistent with reports of a non-governmental organisations and observations made by lawyers with the Foundation’s Programme of Legal Assistance for Refugees and Migrants. “In our opinion, our primary concern should be issues involving children, and what we mean here is not so much the need to enforce their rights to education but rather the need to prohibit their placement in guarded facilities altogether”, says Ms Rusiłowicz.

It is worth reminding that under the amendment to the Foreigners Act effective as of 12 June 2012 detention should be applied as a measure of last resort. This new law is a consequence of the transposition of the so-called return directive, i.e. directive 2008/115/EC. According to Jacek Białas, a lawyer with the HFHR, “a foreigner, even awaiting expulsion from Poland, may be ordered to remain at a specific address, but not necessarily detained”.

HFHR’s employees working on the Foundation’s projects regularly monitor the conditions in such centres. “During our visit at the Przemyśl centre we noticed quite a few issues that made us seriously concerned, such as access to medical care and imposition of additional duties on foreigners”, stresses Maja Tobiasz.

This week HFHR’s employees will conduct monitoring visits at the centres, in which striking foreigners are detained.

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