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.
An interview should not be conducted if the health condition of the applicant or psychological considerations make it impossible to hear them within the time set in the law as a deadline (i.e. 6 months). NGOs confirm that there were cases where the interview was postponed under this provision.
The Office for Foreigners has stated that children are always interviewed in their place of residence. The Office also confirms that there were cases of omission of an interview in 2019 because of the condition of the applicant.
In Poland there is a limited number of NGOs specialising in psychological support for vulnerable asylum seekers, some of them concentrate on assistance directed to a particular group (children or victims of trafficking). Additionally, due to the lack of funding since 2016, many NGOs have limited their assistance activities (see Access to NGOs).
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 2019 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 Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019.