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 is in need of special procedural guarantees. Once the person is considered as requiring special treatment, all actions in the proceedings regarding granting international protection are performed in 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 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 an 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.
Also, the Head of the Office 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. The Office for Foreigners does not have a specialised unit dealing with vulnerable groups, however caseworkers are trained by psychologists and EASO experts and only trained staff work on these cases. In 2020 there were 21 such caseworkers. In 2021 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.
However NGOs have brought up for years that the identification of vulnerable applicants is improper and since they are not properly identified, they are not given adequate support during the procedure. In the report for 2020 SIP stresses 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.
In 2020 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 direct conversation. This only happened in 2021 in exceptional cases.
Exemption from special procedures
In 2018 the Office for Foreigners stressed that the law does not exclude the application of the accelerated procedure towards 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) and did not present any statistical data on the use of the accelerated procedure in their case. In 2021 and 2020 the Office responded that there were no statistics in that regard.
 Article 69 Law on Protection.
 Article 44(4)(1) Law on Protection.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, as of 16 July 2019.
 Information provided by the OFF by email, 13 April 2022.
 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], available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/3LnxrIB, 13.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2022.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019.