The Border Police Directorate of the Ministry of Interior is in charge of the management of the detention centre and the staff working within the centre are mainly police officers. In 2019, the Ministry of Interior reported that a total 75 employees work in the Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo, 33 in the Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik and 42 in the Transit Reception Centre in Trilj. No new data are available for 2020.
A new Ordinance on stay in the Reception Centre for Foreigners (“Detention Centre Ordinance”) entered into force in November 2018, and was amended in 2019. The initial text of Ordinance from 2018 foresaw the need for the Ombudsperson, national or international courts, or other state or international supervisory bodies to have concluded agreement with the Ministry of Interior in order to communicate with detainees. This was changed with the amendments so that these stakeholders do not longer need to have agreements concluded with the Ministry of Interior.
The Ombudsperson’s staff conducted an unannounced visit in 2019 to, amongst other, the Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik and Reception Centre for Foreigners in Ježevo. It was reported that migrants in Transit Reception Centre in Tovarnik have difficult access to attorneys and that they are not adequately informed about their rights.
While data on the Ombudsperson’s visits are not available, in 2020 the Ombudswoman initiated an investigation proceeding related to access to free legal aid for irregular migrants detained in the Reception Centre for foreigners in Ježevo. It was determined that they were not adequately informed that they are entitle to free legal aid.They were also not made aware of contact persons they may turn to for legal advice and / or legal representation. The Ombudswoman recommended that information on free legal aid is printed in languages usually spoken by foreigners in return procedures, posted on the notice boards of the Centre and provided to each migrant when issuing a return decision.
Conditions in the detention centre are satisfactory. According to the Ordinance, each room must guarantee 4m2 per person and have access to daylight. Every person has his or her own bed and there is sufficient space and separation between beds, as well as sufficient space to store personal possessions. Men and women are separated. Detainees are provided with clothes, although they are all dressed in identical tracksuits and cannot, in usual circumstances, use their clothes.
There is a so-called library within the centre so detainees have access to books in a few languages. However, no internet access is available. The centre is cleaned on a regular basis and there are sufficient showers and toilets. There is a common room with a TV available and migrants can spend most of the day there, watching TV or playing cards. There is also a facility for buying cigarettes and drinks. There are two public phones available to migrants at the Centre that can be used at their own cost. However, detained migrants are not allowed to use their mobile phones, which are seized upon admission to the Centre.
If a person is in possession of any cash, it will be temporarily seized and safeguarded by an authorised officer. While staying in the Centre, people may use the seized cash, but may not have an amount exceeding HRK 300 (approximately €30) on them.
The cost of accommodation of a foreigner in the Centre amounts to HRK 150 (approx. 20 EUR) per day and these costs are borne by the foreigners themselves. According to the Decision on the Manner of Calculation of deportation costs, stay at the Centre will be charged also to applicants accommodated there. In the case of families, the costs are borne by the person who holds the funds. If they do not possess any funds to cover these expenses, the costs of their stay in the Centre are paid from the state budget.
According to the Ordinance, persons are provided with three meals a day, of which at least one must be a warm meal. Specific diets can be prepared upon request or when ordered by a doctor (for religious or other reasons, e.g. for pregnant women). In practice, quality of food is generally reported to be of a satisfactory level.
People are entitled to stay outdoors for at least two hours a day in a specially designated area within the Centre (there is a football playground serving as an outdoor exercise area). This does not always happen for example during bad weather conditions
Migrants are entitled to freedom of religion, and one room is used for this purpose. In October 2020, information was published according to which the Reception centre for Foreigners in Ježevo implements the project : “Improvement of accommodation conditions and working conditions in the Reception Center for Foreigners in Ježevo“. The aim of the project is to ensure adequate accommodation conditions for third-country nationals in accordance with EU standards, improve the infrastructure and to raise the level of quality of services as well as working conditions for employees in the Center.
As regards police stations, a case concerning conditions in detention i.e. premises in the Border Police station of Bajakovo, Daraibou v. Croatia, was lodged on 19 December 2017 and was communicated by the ECtHR on 23 October 2018. The applicant complains under the substantive and procedural aspects of Articles 2 and 3 ECHR that Croatia is responsible for not preventing a life-threatening situation, a fire in the police station, owing to which he suffered grave bodily injuries and that no effective investigation has been carried out in that respect.
Health care and special needs in detention
Foreigners in detention have access to emergency health care, according to the Ordinance.
There is no special mechanism in the detention centre to identify persons with special reception needs. Although vulnerable applicants were rarely detained in the past few years, when that happened, vulnerable persons were usually transferred to open centres upon request from lawyers working in NGOs. However, within the Centre a special facility exists for vulnerable groups. This facility is an integral part of the Reception Centre for Foreigners, which is an organisational unit of the Border Police Directorate. The facility has a capacity of 27 places. Beside rooms for accommodation, the facility has a living room and a playroom for children, and facilities for education, health care, isolation, psychologists and educators.
 Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, Border Directorate, 6 February 2019.
 Official Gazette 101/2018.
 Official gazette 57/2019.
 Article 8 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 10 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 7 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 24 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Official Gazette 66/13, available in Croatian at: https://bit.ly/2Jxvbma. See also the standard form provided to foreigners for the collection of such costs: ECRE, Balkan route reversed, December 2016, Annex II.
 Article 19 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 18 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Article 20 Detention Centre Ordinance.
 Ministry of Interior: Project “Improvement of accommodation conditions and working conditions in the Reception Center for Foreigners in Ježevo“, 23 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3emgiiW.
 Information provided by the Border Police Directorate, 14 October 2015.