Special procedural guarantees

Poland

Country Report: Special procedural guarantees Last updated: 13/06/24

Author

Independent

Adequate support during the interview

As mentioned in the section on Identification, the Head of the Office is obliged to assess whether a person belonging to one of the groups enumerated in the law needs special procedural guarantees. Once the person is considered as requiring special treatment, all actions in the proceedings regarding granting international protection are performed under the following conditions:

  • Ensuring freedom of speech, in a manner adjusted to their psychophysical condition;
  • On the dates adjusted to their psychophysical condition, taking into account the time in which they benefit from the health care services;
  • In the foreigner’s place of stay, in case it is justified by their health condition;
  • In the presence of a psychologist, medical doctor or interpreter, in case there is such a need.

Upon the request of the applicant considered requiring special treatment, in cases justified by their needs, the actions in the proceedings regarding granting international protection are performed by a person of the same gender, and in the presence of a psychologist, medical doctor or an interpreter, of a gender indicated by the foreigner.[1]

The Head of the Office also ensures that the interview is conducted by a person trained in the techniques of hearing such persons and in using the country of origin information.[2] The Office for Foreigners does not have a specialised unit dealing with vulnerable groups, however, caseworkers are trained by psychologists and EUAA experts and only trained staff can work on these cases.[3] In 2020, there were 21 such caseworkers. In 2021 and 2022, the Office for Foreigners did not give the exact number but ensured that persons with special needs are heard exclusively by persons trained in this regard.[4]

NGOs have been raising concerns for years that the identification of vulnerable applicants is inadequate, and as a result, they are not receiving sufficient support during the asylum procedure. In the report for 2020, SIP stressed that psychologists present during interviews did not prepare opinions which would pay attention to the fact that the interviewee was a victim of violence and how this may affect their statements.[5] SIP reported a case, which concerned an applicant who was a victim of torture in his country of origin. The administrative authorities did not accept as evidence the documents provided by the applicant and this was the reason the Supreme Administrative Court annulled the decisions[6]. The Court also stressed that the authorities ignored psychological opinion, in which it had been certified that the applicant had problems with memory and concentration and that he had been diagnosed with PTSD. The Court also highlighted that in the case filed, there was no opinion of a psychologist taking part in the interview.

In 2022 and 2021, the interviews were mainly conducted through videoconferencing, but the interviewee and interviewer stayed in the Office for Foreigners, using separate rooms. According to the Office for Foreigners, there were no requests for conducting interviews in another manner, by a conversation in person.[7] The Office for Foreigners does not process any statistics concerning interviews, so no more precise information is available.

 

Exemption from special procedures

The law does not exclude the application of the accelerated procedure to vulnerable applicants (apart from some restrictions concerning unaccompanied children, where it is only allowed to examine their application in an accelerated procedure where they pose a threat to national security). [8] In 2022 and 2021, the Office responded that there were no statistics in that regard.

 

 

 

[1] Article 69 Law on Protection.

[2] Article 44(4)(1) Law on Protection.

[3] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 3 February 2023.

[4] Information provided by the OF, 3 February 2023.

[5] Legal Intervention Association (SIP), Raport SIP w działaniu, Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2020 r. [Report SIP in action. Rights of foreigners in Poland in 2020], p. 13, available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/3LnxrIB,

[6] The Supreme Administrative Court judgement, II OSK 373/21, see: Legal Intervention Association (SIP), Raport SIP w działaniu, Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2021 r. [Report SIP in action. Rights of foreigners in Poland in 2021], page 29-30. available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/43Cozbo.

[7] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.

[8] Article 63a Law on Protection.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview 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