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Second monitoring of guarded centres

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Association for Legal Intervention launched on Monday the monitoring of guarded centres for foreigners. The action, initiated by the Ministry of the Interior, will end on 17 February 2014. The NGO monitoring will be accompanied by internal audits conducted by the Ministry’s officials.

“Both reviews will be performed independently of each other and their outcomes will be presented in two separate reports”, says Ewa Ostaszewska-Żuk, a lawyer working with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

The monitoring will be a follow-up to the audit that took place in Autumn 2012 which was requested by the Ministry in the aftermath of protests organised by foreigners detained in guarded centres. The monitoring was summarised in the HFHR’s report “Migration is not a crime”. The parallel actions of the Ministry officials and NGO activists aim at reviewing operations of the centres a year after the initial monitoring.

“We will check how many of the numerous promises given by the Minister of the Interior have been kept and put into action. At the beginning of 2013 the Minister promised quick changes in the functioning of guarded centres for foreigners and declared significant liberalisation of the centres’ institutional regime. Still, our observations suggest that not much has changed. We want to collect information to find out what the truth is”, explains Dr Witold Klaus, President of the Association for Legal Intervention.

Currently, six guarded centres operate in Poland. They are located in Kętrzyn, Białystok, Biała Podlaska, Przemyśl, Krosno Odrzańskie and Lesznowola. An audit will be performed in every centre. Representatives of the organisations will be talking with both Border Guard officers and foreigners staying in the centres.

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