According to the Detention Centre Ordinance, after being placed in the centre, individuals are entitled to one free phone call with their country’s diplomatic mission or consular office, and to another private phone call lasting up to 3 minutes.
Persons are allowed to receive visits at least twice a week. The centre must be notified about the visit in writing at least two days earlier. A visit may be prohibited if it is established that the visitor is not announced or if he or she poses a threat to public order, public security and health or that he or she is prone to improper behaviour and violation of regulations. Visits to third-country nationals shall take place in a special room for visits. The visit may last for up to an hour, regardless of the number of visitors. On an exceptional basis, a visit may last longer if approved by the head of the centre or the person designated by the head of the centre.
Persons shall be provided with an opportunity to communicate with their attorney and the competent national or international institutions or organisations in the field of protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with which the Ministry of Interior has concluded a cooperation agreement. In order to effectively realise such communication, the attorney and representatives of humanitarian and other organisations for the protection of human rights shall be provided with access to the centre in accordance with the rules on visits, meaning that visits must be announced two day in advance and may last up to maximum one hour.
Access of lawyers to detention facilities
In 2019, attorneys at law reported problems in accessing the Reception Centre Ježevo as well as problems in relation to privacy with their client. No such information was received in relation to 2020.In 2021, one lawyer reported that problems persisted in that regard.
In August 2020, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited a number of border police stations as well as the reception centre for foreigners (Ježevo) in Croatia to examine the conditions of detention and pre-removal procedures.
The Civil Rights Project (CRP) Sisak, an NGO that provides free legal aid to applicants for international protection in the procedure before Administrative Court reported in 2019 that they have improved their cooperation with the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo. CRP announces every visit two days in advance by e-mail. During 2020 CRP Sisak visited the Reception Center for Foreigners Ježevo, but in reduced extent as a direct consequence of restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Apart from epidemiological restrictions, CRP did not notice any other difficulties in visiting the Reception Center or in cooperation with the competent services and the same was reported by CRP in 2021. The Croatian Law Centre’s lawyer was granted access in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in cases of representation of detained applicants for international protection during 2021.
Access of NGOs and UNHCR to detention facilities
During 2021, the Croatian Red Cross did not face issues in accessing transit reception centres and reception centres for foreigners. In accordance with the Cooperation agreement with the Ministry of the Interior, the Croatian Red Cross implemented a programme of psychosocial support and the renewal of family ties in all three centers for foreigners. During 2021, CRC visited the Transit Center in Trilj 3 times, the Transit Center in Tovarnik 2 times and the Reception Center for Foreigners in Ježevo was visited by CRC on a weekly basis during the second half of the year (21 times in total). As a rule, centers were visited by the CRC’s psychologist and the employee of CRC’s Tracing Service together with interpreters, when necessary.
According to the CRC, access was limited to persons who have just arrived in detention centers and were accommodated in quarantine due to epidemiological measures in detention centers. Upon arrival at the Center, all foreigners were tested for COVID-19 and placed in a 7-day quarantine. During 2021, the fluctuation of foreigners increased in both Transit Centers as a large number of people were accommodated there for a very short time. In contrast to previous years, a much smaller number of foreigners were accommodated in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo. According to CRC, some of the detainees stated that they had difficulties in contacting selected attorneys.
During 2021, the Croatian Red Cross held trainings for employees in the Reception centres in Ježevo, Trilj and Tovarnik. CRC in cooperation with the ICRC, held a workshop “Capacity Building, Review of Cooperation and Exchange of Best Practices” for the heads of all centres and 2 employees of each centre. Educational workshops on identifying vulnerable groups of migrants were also held in Trilj and Tovarnik in cooperation with UNHCR. In addition to police officers working in the Centres, police officers from border police stations Trilj and Tovarnik also participated.
In 2021, he Croatian Law Centre’s lawyer visited the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo whilst representing a client accommodated in Ježevo.
IOM reported that they did not encounter any problem with accessing reception centre. IOM maintained open communication channels with staff working in the Reception Centers to allow migrants staying there to return voluntarily to their country of origin.
In 2021, IOM held two trainings for border police officers as part of the project “Improving Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations for Vulnerable Migrants” funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The training was held in the premises of the Transit Reception Center for Foreigners in Tovarnik and in the premises of the Police Academy for employees of the Reception Center for Foreigners Ježevo. The topic of the training was: health care at the workplace – prevention of COVID-19 diseases and other infectious diseases, vaccination and health needs, challenges among migrants and refugees from the perspective of border police officers (how to identify a potentially ill migrant person, further treatment), and maintaining mental health. 27 border police officers participated to the training.
In practice, some NGOs have faced obstacles to accessing detention centres. The Centre for Peace Studies does not have access to the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo and the Transit Reception Centre for Foreigners in Tovarnik and Trilj since the beginning of 2018. Are you Syrious (AYS) did not ask for access to Reception Centres in Ježevo, Trilj and Tovarnik in the course of 2021. UNHCR has also access to the Centres. However, every visit should be announced in advance.
 Articles 4 and 21 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 22 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 26(3) Detention Centre Ordinance, citing Article 22.
 Information provided by attorneys at law, 3 December 2019.
 Information provided by attorneys at law, 29 December 2021.
 Council of Europe, ‘Council of Europe anti-torture Committee carries out rapid reaction visit to Croatia to examine treatment of migrants’, 18 August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dIr9ok.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project, 6 December 2019.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 5 February 2021.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 10 January 2022.
 Information provided by CRC, 4 January 2022.
 Information provided by IOM, 7 February 2022.
 Information provided by the Centre for Peace Studies, 22 January 2021.