Information for asylum seekers & access to NGOs & UNHCR

Poland

Author

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR)

The same level of information on the asylum procedure is provided to applicants during all types of procedures. According to the Law on Protection, as of 13 November 2015, the SG officer who receives an asylum application has to inform in writing the applicant in a language that they understand on:

  • Rules related to the asylum procedure;


  • Rights and obligations of the asylum seeker and their  legal consequences;


  • The possibility of informing UNHCR of an asylum procedure, reading the files, making notes and copies;


  • NGOs which work with asylum seekers;


  • The scope of the material reception conditions and medical assistance;


  • Access to the free of charge state legal aid;


  • The address of the centre where the applicant will live in.1

With regard to general information on the asylum procedure, rights and obligations of asylum seekers etc. as well as information on rights after protection is granted it has to be stressed that they are formulated in legal terms and are therefore not easily understandable.

In addition, the Office for Foreigners also offers information in the form of a booklet entitled “First steps in Poland – practical brochure for the asylum applicants in Poland”.2 It was published in 2011under a project co-financed by ERF and then updated in 2015. It is now available in 6 languages (Russian, English, Georgian, Arabic, French and Polish) and contains basic information on Poland, Polish law regarding asylum seekers and social assistance.

Asylum seekers are informed about the Dublin procedure when they apply for international protection in accordance with the Dublin III Regulation.3 They receive a leaflet, as specified in Article 4(3) of the Dublin III Regulation, when their fingerprints are taken. These leaflets are currently available in the following languages: Polish, English, Arabic, Armenian, Pashto, Persian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Russian and Georgian. There is also a separate instruction about the rules of the Dublin procedure, which has been a part of a general instruction for asylum seekers since 2004, currently available in: Polish, English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Georgian, Hindi, Spanish, Moldavian, Armenian, Panjabi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian and Urdu.4

Information on the Dublin procedure is rather unclear and it is hard to estimate, whether it is the insufficient information or other reasons that make an asylum seeker go to other Member States despite the fact that Poland, according to the hierarchy within the Dublin Regulation, should examine their application.

NGOs also provide information on asylum within projects co-funded by ERF. A leaflet entitled “Refugee procedure in Poland – vulnerable persons and victims of sexual and gender based violence” was produced by the Halina Nieć Legal Aid Centre and the Office for Foreigners in 2012 in Polish and English.5 In 2012, the HFHR prepared a booklet on the asylum procedure and a booklet on the rights and obligations after being granted protection in Polish, English, Russian, Arabic and French. The booklets are available on the webpage of the HFHR, and were sent to the Office for Foreigners, as well as detention and reception centres. Both HFHR booklets were updated in 2014. Updated versions are available in Polish, English and Russian.6 In 2015 HFHR published a video on family reunification procedure, available in Polish, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Chinese.7

Information about the possibility to contact UNHCR is available in the Office for Foreigners (in English, Russian, French, Arabic and Vietnamese) and in reception and detention centres. The instructions for asylum applicants provided by the SG contain information about the possibility to contact UNHCR and NGOs. According to the Border Guards they are provided at the border and are available in: Polish, English, Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Georgian, Hindi, Persian, Russian, Ukrainian, Urdu, Kazakh, Tadjik, Sorani, Kyrgyz, Bengali, Belarussian and Turkish.8

In every reception centre there is an organisation, which provides integration assistance (e.g. educational and leisure activities) to asylum seekers accommodated there,9 although it is dependent on financial means of these organisations.

  • 1. Article 30(1)(5) Law on Protection, as amended in November 2015.
  • 2. The booklets are available at: http://bit.ly/1IsLwQG.
  • 3. Article 4 Dublin III Regulation.
  • 4. Letter from the Border Guard Headquarters to HFHR from 24 August 2015 no FAX-KG-CU-5944/IP/15.
  • 5. The leaflet was published within the framework of the project “Give them a chance! - Legal and information support to vulnerable asylum seekers and SGBV prevention in centres for asylum seekers in Poland” The booklet is available at: http://bit.ly/1IsLwQG.
  • 6. HFHR, “Me in the asylum procedure”, available at: http://bit.ly/1Lt7Hcu and “Refugee status, subsidiary protection – what next?”, available at: http://bit.ly/1FPBrOt.
  • 7. HFHR, “The whole family in Poland. Educational Film for Migrants on Family Reunification”, available at: http://bit.ly/1QUgH8I.
  • 8. Letter from the Border Guard Headquarters to HFHR from 18 August 2015 no MAIL KG-OI-614/III/2015.
  • 9. Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, Department for Social Assistance, 25.03.2014.List of NGOs with which Office for Foreigners cooperated is listed in an informative brochure: Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców, Informator Departamentu Pomocy Socjalnej, from 21 January 2013.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti