Access to detention facilities

Croatia

Country Report: Access to detention facilities Last updated: 27/05/21

Author

Croatian Law Centre Visit Website

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.[1]

Persons are allowed to receive visits at least twice a week.[2] 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,[3] meaning that visits must be announced two day in advance and may last up to maximum one hour.

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.[4] As explained above, the findings of this report were not published as of April 2021.

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.[5]No such information was received in relation to 2020.

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.[6] 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.[7] Apart from epidemiological restrictions, CRP did not notice any other difficulties in visiting the Reception Center or in cooperation with the competent services.

Access of NGOs and UNHCR to detention facilities

During 2020, the Croatian Red Cross did not face issues in accessing transit reception centres and reception centres for foreigners. [8] Psychological support activities were carried out on the basis of a Cooperation Agreement with the Ministry of Interior.

JRS reported that since September 2020, JRS has regained access to the Reception Centre for foreigners in Ježevo within the project ‘Care of refugees in Detention centre’ and thus visited detained applicants for international protection once in a week and provided psychosocial support.[9] At the end of 2020, following the worsening of the epidemiological situation and new measures adopted, this activity was temporarily suspended until the improvement of the epidemiological situations.

The Croatian Law Centre visited the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo and Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik up until the end of March 2020, which is when the project “Legal Counselling in the Procedure of Granting International Protection” financed by AMIF has ended.

During 2020, IOM conducted counseling on voluntary return for one person accommodated in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo.[10]  IOM does not have a permanent presence in centers for foreigners, and information and counseling on voluntary return is provided at the request of the migrant, directly or through an intermediary. IOM reported that they did not encounter any problem with accessing reception centre.

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.[11]

Are you Syrious (AYS) did not ask for access to Reception Centres in Ježevo, Trilj and Tovarnik in the course of 2020. Nevertheless, they emphasised, that, it became impossible to find out whether a particular person was detained, for example in situations where AYS was contacted by the family of the person who assumed that a person may be in detention and asked AYS to contact the centre to check accordingly.[12]

UNHCR has also access to the Centres. However, every visit should be announced in advance.

 

 

[1] Articles 4 and 21 Detention Centre Ordinance.

[2] Article 22 Detention Centre Ordinance.

[3] Article 26(3) Detention Centre Ordinance, citing Article 22.

[4] 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.

[5] Information provided by attorneys at law, 3 December 2019.

[6] Information provided by Civil Rights Project, 6 December 2019.

[7]  Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 5 February 2021.

[8] Information provided by Croatian Red Cross, 2 March 2021.

[9] Information provided by JRS, 12 January 2021.

[10] Information provided by IOM, 30 December 2020.

[11] Information provided by the Centre for Peace Studies, 22 January 2021.

[12]  Information provided by the Are you Syrious, 2 February 2021

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation