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 5 minutes. An exception is provided for minors who have the right to talk to their guardians by phone without cost and limitation. Foreigners can make other calls through the public phone in the centre at their own expense.
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. A police officer can terminate a visit, if during the visit security, order and peace in the centre are disturbed or if it is determined that the visitor has arrived in a different capacity than announced.
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.
According to the Ombudsman’s report for 2022, difficulties in accessing legal aid providers were observed in all three centres, as also reported to the Ombudsman by the Croatian Bar Association.
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 the problems experienced in accessing the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo in 2022.
Access of NGOs and UNHCR to detention facilities
During 2022, the Croatian Red Cross did not face issues in accessing transit reception centres and reception centres for foreigners. During 2022, CRC visited the Transit Centre in Trilj 4 times, the Transit Centre in Tovarnik 3 times and the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo was visited by CRC on a weekly basis. In the Centres, the Croatian Red Cross provided individual and group psychosocial support, social activities, and detained persons were also provided with humanitarian aid, phone cards and other necessities according to their needs. A leaflet on the topic of mental health and psychosocial support was prepared by CRC in the course of 2022.
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 2022, the Croatian Red Cross held training for employees of the three Centres, on the following topics: the entry of the Republic of Croatia into the Schengen Area and the changes that come with that; the transition from International Humanitarian Law to International Law on Human Rights; Immigration detention – communication with the migrant population; health epidemiological difficulties in the migrant population and urgent first aid procedures with an emphasis on potential situations in detention.
IOM reported that they did not encounter any problem with accessing reception centre in 2022. IOM maintained open communication channels with staff working in the Reception Centres 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 2022, IOM held the third training for border police officers as part of the project “Improving Access to COVID-19 Vaccinations for Vulnerable Migrants”. The training took place in the premises of the Transit Reception Centre for foreigners in Trilj. The topics covered by the training were the same as in 2021.
In practice, NGOs are facing obstacles to accessing detention centres for the past several years. 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. CRP Sisak, reported the problems with the access to Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo in 2022.
UNHCR has also access to the Centres. However, every visit should be announced in advance.
 Article 18 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 19 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 25(5-6) Detention Centre Ordinance, citing Article 19.
 Information provided by attorneys at law, 3 December 2019.
 Information provided by attorneys at law, 29 December 2021.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 9 January 2022.
 Information provided by Croatian Red Cross, 18 January 2022
 Information provided by IOM, 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by the Centre for Peace Studies, 22 January 2021, also confirmed on 18 January 2023.
 Information provided by Civil Rights Project Sisak, 9 January 2022.