Conditions in detention facilities

Poland

Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 13/06/24

Author

Independent

The Law on Foreigners contains a section on detention conditions, rights and obligations of foreigners.[1] Some practices relating to the functioning of the centres have now been framed into legal provisions.

 

Overall conditions

There were six detention centres (Białystok and Czerwony Bór under the supervision of the same branch of Border Guards, and Kętrzyn, Biała Podlaska, Przemyśl, Lesznowola, Wędrzyn and Krosno Odrzańskie – were also under the supervision of the same branch of the Border Guard). Białystok, Lesznowola and Biała Podlaska have been renovated in recent years.

Detention centres in Wędrzyn, Czerwony Bór and Lesznowola are located in the forest area and far from any public transportation which is a problem for foreigners released from detention centres. The temporary detention centre in Wędrzyn was located on an active military range where military manoeuvres take place and explosions are registered.[2] Foreigners released from Wędrzyn were taken to the closest city by the Border Guards. Very often foreigners are left alone without any assistance and information on where they should go or how they should reach the reception centre in Dębak.[3] It was reported that foreigners were released at night from the detention centre and faced difficulties in reaching the reception centres.[4]

There were cases of overcrowding in detention centres in 2022: in Lesznowola, Przemyśl, Wędrzyn, Białystok, and in Kętrzyn.[5] Since 25 April 2022, the standard of 4 m2 per person was reinstated by the border guards in detention centres for families. In detention centres for men, the area per person was temporarily reduced depending on the needs in 2022.[6]

Generally, detainees are accommodated in rooms, which cannot be locked at night for security matters.[7] Conversely, from August to the beginning of December 2021, approximately 100 people, mainly families with children, from different countries and religions were placed in a sports hall in Kętrzyn[8], which was a large open space, without any portable screen or a partition. Only beds and tables were provided and the access to Internet, phones and legal assistance was very restricted.[9] Additionally, the foreigners (120) were placed in containers in detention centres in Lesznowola and Kętrzyn, with the cases of two families in one container.[10]

There were no rules in placing foreigners in detention centres in Wędrzyn[11], Czerwony Bór and Kętrzyn, which means that people of different nationalities and religions (or those who gave up their religion) were placed in the same facilities which increases tense atmosphere and insecurity. As a result, there were conflicts between foreigners and the use of violence (including fights).[12]

The Supreme Audit Office reported that the conditions in Wędrzyn and the high number of foreign residents placed there were leading to growing frustration and conflicts. As evidence of this, there were seven cases of extraordinary situations reported to the District Court in Zielona Gora. These included incidents such as a foreign resident successfully escaping, suicide attempts, rebellions, fights, and aggressive behaviours.[13] Foreigners are subject to constant monitoring, which is disproportionate to their situation and applied in the penitentiary system only to particularly dangerous prisoners.

In some detention centres, the food is provided by external providers (Biała Podlaska, Wędrzyn, Czerwony Bór), while in others it is prepared in the centres (e.g., in Bialystok). There are specialised diets available e.g., vegetarian, vegan, adapted to Muslims, adapted to pregnant or breastfeeding women or diabetics. Other diets may be prescribed by a physician and should be followed accordingly.[14] In the detention centre in Czerwony Bór, there was no canteen for foreigners separated in the facility.[15] Generally, foreigners complained about the food in 2022 as it was not the kind of food they were used to eating.[16]

The main equipment in a room in the detention centre consists of beds, small wardrobes and a small table. In Wędrzyn, the number of equipment was reported as inadequate for the number of foreigners placed in the buildings (67% of tables were missing, and 34% of chairs were missing).[17] In Przemyśl and Wędrzyn the windows in the foreigners’ rooms were covered by toilet paper and the blankets were hung to cover from the light.

If detainees cannot have all their belongings in their room, they have to place them in the external storage space in the centre. Some of their belongings are also placed there for safety reasons and can be accessed only upon request. In the case of Wędrzyn, foreigners’ belongings were placed in an internal storage space. [18]

In Lesznowola[19] (also in Krosno Odrzańskie), there is a television in each room, gym, and outdoor pitch. NPM found that the conditions in the detention centre at Krosno Odrzańskie were unsatisfactory, indicating that the Border Guard was not fully meeting their legal obligations. This includes providing proper social services and creating an environment that allows access to cultural, educational, and sports activities, as well as promoting integration and facilitating access to the external environment for detainees. In addition, the toilets and the washing cabins were only built up to 1 m high and did not provide a cover on 3 sides.[20] The most common problem in terms of administrative proceedings conducted by officers against foreigners was the language barrier and also the availability of translators.[21]

According to the Commissioner for Human Rights, the automatic detention of foreigners who crossed the Polish-Belarusian border limited the role of those facilities to the isolation function only.[22] Furthermore, poor living and sanitary conditions, improper exercise of the rights of migrants and the length of stay in isolation may reach the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment. Moreover, the level of medical and psychological care provided in detention centres is insufficient and as a result, the health of foreigners who were victims of torture could deteriorate through secondary victimization.[23] Furthermore, the detention centres look like prisons and detention centres in Krosno Odrzańskie, Białystok, and Przemyśl have rooms with barred windows.[24]

The temporary detention centre in Wędrzyn, which is a branch of the detention centre of Krosno Odrzańskie, was located in military barracks, on an active military range where military manoeuvres took place, and the explosions happened regularly. That facility was adapted to the detention centre in 2 weeks (it was estimated firstly that adaption facilities in Wędrzyn would have taken from 20 to 40 weeks) [25] and its capacity was 700 places. The detention centre and small walking areas were surrounded by a concertina razor wire. Foreigners were placed in several buildings, 150 people in each. Foreigners were accommodated in multi-bedrooms with a capacity of up to 24 which made it impossible in practice to create conditions ensuring at least minimum privacy. At the end of 2021, 599 foreigners were placed in the Wędrzyn facility and there were plans to increase capacity up to 900 places. But in June 2022 – 340 migrants were placed there and finally, this detention centre was closed in August 2022.[26]

The Supreme Audit Office assessed negatively the preparation and management of tasks by the Border Guards in Wędrzyn from 24 August 2021 until 31 December 2021. The facility did not comply with the law requirements in terms of infrastructure and equipment and did not guarantee the provision of the foreigners’ rights. In addition, the use of outdated fire protection documentation and inadequate sanitary and hygienic conditions in Wędrzyn posed a threat to the health and lives of both foreigners and the Border Guard officers serving at the facility. Moreover, the rapidly increasing number of foreigners residing in Wędrzyn resulted in reducing the living space for one foreigner to 2 sq. m, leading to conflicts, emergencies and progressive degradation of the residential buildings, including sanitary conditions.[27]

According to the Commissioner for Human Rights, that facility does not fulfil any of the basic guarantees preventing inhuman and degrading treatment of persons deprived of liberty. The material conditions were not acceptable in the light of the minimum standards of protection of the rights of foreigners in detention and they do not fulfil the standards of decent treatment of persons deprived of liberty. In 2021, foreigners staying in Wędrzyn could not use all the rooms for cultural, educational and sports or religious practices. In addition, recreational and sports complex was not created.[28]

Since the very beginning of the functioning of the centre in Wędrzyn, the biggest and most persistent problem was overcrowding of the facility. During the visit of the representatives of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the number of foreigners detained exceeded the maximum capacity which made it impossible in practice to exercise certain rights of foreigners detained in the centre. Furthermore, the windows were covered with toilet paper due to lack of the roller blinds, there was not enough furniture, there was nothing besides tables and stools in rooms, and clothes were stored on the floor or in plastic bags. Foreigners have had very limited access to the outside world and access to computers, scanners, printers and the Internet was restricted. This also caused problems when getting in touch with lawyers or non-governmental organisations[29] and created difficulties in complying with the deadline for filing appeals in asylum and detention procedures. There was no offer of recreational and sports activities.[30]

According to the Supreme Audit Office, in Wędrzyn, the storage rooms were cluttered, there were unsecured cables on the walls and floors, and foreigners’ belongings were stored on the floor. Additionally, it was established that, in the buildings numbered 205A, 205B, 206A, and 206B located in Wędrzyn, detainees were not provided information regarding several important matters. This included information on the timing and procedures for meals, schedules for cultural, educational, and sports activities, the availability of medical staff and the timing of medical consultations, as well as information on when and where they could take walks.[31]

Amnesty International reported that the temporary detention centre in Wędrzyn had inadequate toilet and shower facilities. The hygiene standards were also not properly maintained, resulting in these facilities being unusable for the detainees.[32]

In November 2021 there was a riot in the Wędrzyn detention centre.[33] Following the strike, the Border Guards responsible for Wędrzyn identified several potential risks that could lead to further strikes or non-compliance with administrative procedures. These risks included the inability of foreigners to go shopping as frequently as expected, lack of access to the Internet, limited access to legal assistance from attorneys who were also foreigners, restrictions on visits from family members due to the foreigners’ inability to enter the military area, delays in processing applications for international protection, and difficulties in complying with the Rules of Conduct of the Border Guard with Foreigners who require special treatment. Moreover, the additional reports presented the following threats: lack of means to ensure full security of Border Guard officers and foreigners staying in Wędrzyn; lack of possibility to ensure the realization of the rights of foreigners under current legislation; the possibility of hunger protests, fights, aggression against Border Guard officers and the possibility of escapes of foreigners.[34]

In September 2021, there was a riot in Czerwony Bór.[35] Later in 2022, migrants organized hunger strikes several times in Wędrzyn, Biala Podlaska,[36] Lesznowola, Przemyśl and, in 2023 in Krosno Odrzańskie[37]and Białystok[38] due to poor conditions in those facilities and prolonged detention.[39]

In the opinion of the Supreme Audit Office, conditions in Wędrzyn and restrictions on access to a physician and psychologist endangered the life and health of foreigners from 24 August 2021 to 31 December 2021.[40]

The Representatives of the Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out in the recommendations issued after one of his visits to the detention centre in Wędrzyn in January 2022, that Border Guard should remind officers of the security division of their basic obligation to treat foreigners with respect. The representatives of the Commissioner received alarming signals about the use of uncensored terms by Border Guard officers in relation to foreigners. Additionally, Border Guards address the foreigner by identification numbers. The Commissioner concluded that the centre could not ensure basic safeguards against inhuman and degrading treatment and should be closed immediately. [41]

The Supreme Audit Office stated that proper conditions in the detention centre in Czerwony Bór were not guaranteed in four residential rooms and one bathroom which resulted in the formation of fungus on

the walls and ceilings of these rooms. Additionally, the Office noted that Border Guards did not implement fire protection security rules for 2 months.[42]

Representatives of the Commissioner for Human Rights also conducted inspections of the detention centre in Przemyśl. They pointed out that bars are still installed in the windows which emphasise the penitentiary nature of the facility. Additionally, in many rooms, foreigners had to hang blankets over the windows to limit sunlight during the day.[43]

 

Activities and education

As it was mentioned earlier, the profiles of some detention centres were modified in 2021-2023; for example, families with children were detained in detention centres where in the past only men were placed. In practice this meant that the infrastructure was not adjusted to the needs of minors, for example, there are no playgrounds or spaces where the activities for children could take place.

What is more, changing the profiles of detention centres made it necessary to supplement the equipment and reorganise the centre, including, for example, adjusting the education and leisure. The staff of detention centres pointed out that they were not adequately trained, particularly in the context of identifying the special needs of persons belonging to the target group.[44]

Moreover, not in all guarded centres there was a sports and recreation space, e.g. in Wędrzyn, Krosno,[45] Białystok, Kętrzyn, and Biała Podlaska. In Wędrzyn and Krosno there are no recreational and sports activities organized for the foreigners.[46] On the other hand, in some detention centres the open-air space is of adequate size and sufficient recreational facilities are provided (e.g., playing field for volleyball or basketball in Lesznowola).

In practice, detainees can do outdoor exercises regularly. Detainees can watch television without any limitations, including until late at night.[47]

Internet access was not granted in all centres (e.g., in Wędrzyn,[48] Czerwony Bór for two months) and the number of computers provided was not sufficient. Access to printers and scanners was also restricted in some detention centres, e.g., Wędrzyn, which in practice meant that the right to have contact with the outside world was not guaranteed.[49] NPM in one of its recommendations stated that number of the computers has to be increased.[50]

It is worth noting that foreigners are under constant supervision of the Border Guard officer. Furthermore, on 27 January 2017, the Border Guard Chief Commander ordered the blocking of sites with presumed terrorist-related and extremist content, social media and instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, and Messenger. New technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) are also forbidden for security reasons even though the CPT recommended this kind of communication to be available for use by foreigners in detention centres.[51] On the other hand, foreigners placed in some detention centres can use Skype after signing up for the list (in Wędrzyn access to Skype was not guaranteed).[52] Moreover, migrants cannot use smartphones, which means that access to the Internet is possible only in dedicated rooms with computers. [53]

Not all foreigners have phones or SIM cards and there are no publicly available telephones. They can request to use a cell phone at the disposal of Border Guards only if they have a sim card. According to the NPM, domestic legal regulations restrict the use of cell phones for foreigners in detention facilities who do not have identity documents as the law requires that individuals possess a passport or residence card to register the SIM card. Additionally, migrants have to cover the phone costs and it was pointed out that in the case of migrants who do not have financial means in the detention centre, their right to have contact with the outside world can be restricted.[54]

Not all of the detainees had access to reading and leisure materials due to the admission of foreigners who spoke languages that used to be considered rare. Additionally, books in some foreign languages were not available in Polish bookstores.[55] However, in some centres, there are libraries with books and newspapers in several languages, for example in Russian, English, and French. There are also popular games to play (e.g., chess, cards). Concerts and sports competitions are organised for adults and children in Kętrzyn (but only until August) and Przemyśl. At the same time, according to the Commissioner for Human Rights, foreigners complained that additional activities are rarely organized and that they feel bored. [56]

According to the Supreme Audit Office detention centre in Wędrzyn did not have the required facilities: a library, rooms for religious practices, cultural, educational and sports activities and sports activities (only TV rooms were prepared) or recreational and sporting areas.[57] Additionally, in the period from August 2021 to December 31, 2021, no recreational and sports activities were organised.[58]

Detention centres provide rooms for religious practices, except Wędrzyn.[59]

In all centres, in the corridors of each floor, there are boards which provide information in at least 1 or 2 main foreign languages (Russian and/or English). They provide information on the asylum applicants’ rights and/or the rules of stay in the detention centre, meal times (except Wedrzyn), and contact details of NGOs, UNHCR and – depending on the centre – on access to the doctor and psychologist.

In all centres, each asylum applicant and the irregular migrant has an officer appointed to their case with a scheduled meeting to discuss their case. Unfortunately, the number of officers in 2022 was not sufficient in some detention centres. In Wędrzyn, in 2021, officers and employees, despite 3040 overtime hours, were not able to perform all their tasks. There were delays, among others in the registration of applications for international protection, giving the agreement for visits, and conducting personal and cognitive interviews with foreigners. In addition, officers did not keep foreigners informed of their legal situation, did not meet the deadlines for submitting applications to the court to extend the period of the foreigners’ stay in detention and did not conduct systematic identification of foreigners’ disturbing behaviour. As a result, Border Guards in Wędrzyn failed to recognize, among other things, health and mental health problems, which made it impossible to perform any appropriate preventive measures. [60]

In Wędrzyn and Krosno Odrzańskie, only 43% of the estimated necessary staff was hired.[61]

The rules of stay in the detention centres are available in 17 languages: Arabic, English, Ukrainian, Russian, French, Armenian, Chinese, Georgian, Hindi, Spanish, Mongolian, Persian, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, Bengali and Vietnamese.[62] Depending on the centre they are available on each floor of the detention centre or in the common rooms, etc.

The National Prevention Mechanism has reported that detained migrants have repeatedly complained about a language barrier or lack of access to legal assistance, which has resulted in a lack of understanding of applicable procedures and their legal situation. Some of the foreigners also indicated that the decisions issued by the court to extend their stay in the centre were delivered to them with a delay, which in practice made it impossible to file a complaint.[63] According to NPM, systemic measures have to be taken to ensure that every foreigner deprived of liberty could have the possibility to contact a lawyer.[64]

Children staying in the guarded centres are – like all other children staying in the territory of Poland – subject to obligatory education until they are 18. However, this obligation, set in the Polish Constitution, is not fulfilled in the case of children staying in guarded centres.[65] None of the children staying there attends school. Schools near the detention centres in Czerwony Bór, Białystok, Kętrzyn and Biała Podlaska delegated teachers to work in detention facilities. Special classrooms are prepared in these centres. This is the result of agreements between the Border Guard, educational institutions and local authorities.[66]

 

Health care and special needs in detention

According to the law, all detainees have access to regular health care.[67] Unfortunately, in some detention centres access to the physician (Wędrzyn: a doctor was available 6 hours a week to assist around 690 foreigners placed in that detention centre)[68] and psychologists (Przemyśl, Lesznowola, Krosno, Białystok, Kętrzyn, Biała Podlaska, lack of access to the psychologist till October 2021 in Wędrzyn and since then the psychologist was available only 4 hours per week)[69] was very restricted in 2021 and 2022.[70]

Generally, physicians and nurses are hired to work in detention centres.

In some detention centres nurses are present daily from 7.30 a.m. till 9.30 p.m. At the same time, according to Amnesty International, foreigners with minor health conditions had difficulties with access to general physicians and nurses. [71] Additionally, the Supreme Audit Office underline that since August 2021 Local branch of Border Guards has not provided adequate access to health care to foreigners staying in Czerwony Bór.[72] According to law, a foreigner admitted to a guarded centre should be immediately subjected to a medical examination, while the analysis of the data of 35 foreigners showed that 13 of them (i.e. 37.14% of the sample) underwent a medical examination within more than 10 days from the date of admission to a detention centre (including five within 11-20 days, four within 21-30 days and the remaining four after 53, 59, 61 and 65 days respectively). Despite a similar number of foreigners staying in detention centres in Białystok and Czerwony Bór, access to basic medical care in Czerwony Bór was provided on a smaller scale than in Białystok. Medical care in Czerwony Bór was provided by one doctor on average 52 hours per month, while in Białystok physicians were available around 87 hours. At that time, 29.5% fewer medical consultations were reported than in Białystok. According to NPM the number of hired medical staff was not sufficient in 2021.

In the case of Wędrzyn, the NPM received lots of information on the misconduct of a physician hired there who provided medical assistance for migrants in 2021.[73]

In case of an emergency or the need for a specialist (e.g., gynaecologist), detainees are transferred to hospitals or clinics. Migrants also faced problems to have an external visit at their own expense with a physician of their choice as the director of the detention centre had to issue consent to such a consultation.[74]

According to SIP, migrants have restricted access to medical experts and ambulances are not let into detention centres in case of emergency at night.[75]

Since March 2018, Border Guard officers trained in first aid should be present during night shifts in all guarded centres.

The NPM in one of its recommendations stated that Border Guards should raise the number of medical staff hired in detention centres, and families with children and single women should have access to paediatricians, genealogists and migrants’ right to choose a physician and the approval of that choice should not depend on the opinion of the medical staff employed at the centre. Moreover, they recommended that the scope of the medical examination and the medical certificate should refer to the detention and assess whether there is a reasonable presumption of subjection to violence. The so-called body maps should be used during the examinations of all foreigners and medical conduct of body marks as marks of violence, including torture should be performed.

The issue of access to psychological assistance in detention centres is a much more serious matter.[76] According to the National Prevention Mechanism, in Poland, there is a systemic, long-lasting problem of identification of foreigners who have experienced torture or any other form of physical, psychological or sexual violence. The detention centre staff, including psychologists, are not properly prepared to identify victims of torture and inhumane treatment and do not know or do not use the content of the Istanbul Protocol. [77] In addition, the number of psychologists hired in detention centres and the number of hours they were to work with the migrants, was not adjusted to the significant increase of the number of foreigners placed in the centres. In practice, it meant that there was a systemic deterioration of the implementation of the right of foreigners to have access to adequate psychological care.[78]

In September 2015, the Border Guard prepared a document entitled “Rules of BG proceedings with foreigners who need special treatment (algorithm)” because there is no definition of persons who need special treatment and there are no methods for their identification set out in law. The guidelines consist of: (i) a definition of foreigners who require special treatment, (ii) a list of persons involved in the identification, (iii) a set of solutions which simplify identification, (iv) a procedure which should be implemented before a foreigner is placed in the detention centre and (v) a procedure when a foreigner is already in detention. However, early identification of victims of torture and violence is not carried out during the preliminary examination of a foreigner on admission in practice. This document was modified in June 2019, based only on an internal consultation with the Border Guard. In the opinion of NPM, the document still needs improvements [79] as it is inconsistent with Polish law, the Istanbul Protocol and other international standards. These guidelines do not allow for the immediate release of foreigners who are alleged victims of violence from the guarded centre.

According to the HFHR, the Polish authorities (BG and courts on their own motion) do not effectively identify victims of violence. Such identification should be done at the earliest possible stage while deciding on whether the person should be placed in detention. Additionally, the BG and courts should, on their own motion, check if there are any impediments to the application of the detention measure. In practice, asylum seekers who declare in their asylum application to have been subjected to torture, are still placed in detention centres in some cases. Moreover, some courts placed victims in detention centres stating that there is no objection to such a decision since they will have access to psychological assistance in the guarded centre. The same opinion is presented in the SG guidelines, according to which, a foreigner will not be released if psychological assistance can be provided in the guarded centre.[80]

According to the representative of a National Prevention Mechanism, the guidelines for examining and documenting injuries based on the principles described in the Istanbul Protocol (especially regarding the use of so-called body maps) are not implemented by the medical staff in detention centres and arrest in Przemyśl.[81] For example, in the rigorous detention centre in Przemyśl the victim of torture was placed but at the same time, the guidelines were not applied in his case.[82]

In 2022 in a guarded centre in Kętrzyn, the psychologist-Border Guard officer was available 5 days a week full-time. Additionally, from September till the mid-July 2021, a new psychologist, employed in the health department in Border Guard Unit was referred to the detention centre. Two more psychologists hired in the unit could support foreigners in the detention centre; regardless, staff remains insufficient to address the needs of the detained population, considering that, at the beginning of 2022, 392 third country nationals were present.[83]

In Krosno external psychologist was present only for 4 hours a week in 2022 in 2021.[84] She was also responsible for the assistance to third country nationals detained in the Wędrzyn centre, which has an official capacity of 780 places.[85] Based on the report by the Supreme Audit Office, it was found that the psychologist in Krosno did not receive specialized training in clinical diagnosis, specifically related to crisis reactions to traumatic events. Additionally, it was noted that making psychological diagnoses of such reactions was not among her assigned responsibilities.[86] According to NPM, psychological care was not available at all in Wędrzyn and Krosno.[87] None of the migrants placed in the detention centre in Wędrzyn were subject to the Border Guards guidelines. No forms of therapy or psycho-educational classes, no diagnosis of depression or anxiety disorders and assessment of the migrants’ mental state was carried out. In practice, it meant that decisions on the prolongation of detention were made regardless of the state of mental health of migrants.[88]

Additionally, in Wędrzyn, foreigners did not have direct access to the psychologist as her room was outside of the detention centre, behind the barbed fence.

In Przemyśl, two psychologists internal and external are available 100 hours a month. In Biała Podlaska detention centre there are two psychologists hired full-time: a civil worker and a border guard officer. Additionally, the external psychologist was hired for 4-8 hours a week to primarily provide psychological consultations.

In Lesznowola, a full-time psychologist who is also a Border Guard officer was hired, and there are two external psychologists available upon request, typically 1-2 times per week. This is despite the detention centre having a capacity of 192 places.[89]

According to the Supreme Audit Office, foreigners placed in Czerwony Bór and in Białystok did not have access to proper psychological assistance. Psychologists providing services to foreigners were not qualified to make psychological diagnoses of crisis reactions to traumatic events, and they were not trained in clinical diagnosis. In addition, the tender procedure for psychological assistance was initiated with a delay.

As a consequence, a lack of diagnoses could have a negative impact on the effectiveness of psychological assistance provided to foreigners. In addition, in 2022 there was only one psychologist available to a total of 274 foreigners staying in detention centre which deepened the risk of providing appropriate care in this regard.[90]

In practice, the limited access to independent psychological care raises great concerns.[91] The Border Guards refused to allow psychologists to hold meetings with specific individuals in 2021 and 2022 in detention centres in Wędrzyn, Kętrzyn, Biała Podlaska and Lesznowola, declaring that foreigners have access to psychological care in detention centres.[92]

The Commissioner for Human Rights reported many irregularities which concerned psychological assistance and underlined that the number, the frequency and the description of the consultations showed that they were only preliminary interviews and diagnoses. Long-term psychological support was not provided. Additionally, the Commissioner pointed out that the fact that only one psychologist provides psychological assistance in detention centres limits the availability of psychological support. There is a high risk that this psychologist will not be available when support during a foreigner’s mental crisis is needed and there will be no one who could substitute her/him and provide psychological assistance. Moreover, foreigners should have the possibility to choose a psychologist. Otherwise, a detainee who is unable to trust an available psychologist, will not have access to effective psychological support. Moreover, the Commissioner pointed out that a person who does not feel comfortable in the presence of a particular psychologist, will not take advantage of the support. Regardless of their competence, a psychologist may not be the right person to provide support in a particular case because of his/her age, gender, appearance or even way of speaking. In a situation of a multicultural population in detention centres, the human factor plays an even more important role and the more difficult it can be to build trust. Therefore, it is very important to be able to get psychological help from more than one person. When there is no alternative, when a person is not able to trust the only psychologist providing support in a given centre, psychological care will no longer be realistically available.[93]

 

 

 

[1] Articles 410-427 Law on Foreigners.

[2] Commissioner for Human Rights, Visit in detention centre in Wędrzyn in October 2021, https://bit.ly/3HrbNQJ.

[3] Commissioner for Human Rights, meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard, available at: https://bit.ly/3vp4yqa.

[4] RPO pyta o pomoc dla cudzoziemców zwalnianych z ośrodków strzeżonych. Straż Graniczna odpowiada, RPO asks about assistance for foreigners released from guarded centres. The Border Guard responds, February 2023, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3KV0KD7.  

[5] Information provided by Border Guards Headquarters for SIP, 18 February 2022.

[6] BG Headquarters, information 17 January 2023.

[7] CPT Report 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2HVZItc.

[8] REPORT from periodic visitation of the detention Centre for Foreigners in Kętrzyn, conducted by penitentiary judge of the District Court in Olsztyn on 24.11.2021 for the period from 1 November 2019 to 1 November 2021.

[9] Remarks to the Committee of Prevention of Torture, Association for Legal Intervention, March 2022, available in English at https://bit.ly/3vVzbSP.

[10] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[11] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3URYZek,  10.

[12] Information from HFHR, April 2022. Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[13] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[14] Commissioner for Human Rights, Wyciąg Strzeżony Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców w Przemyślu, 7 February 2018, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/2EXlR4y.

[15] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[16] Report of the National Torture Prevention Mechanism on the visit detention centre for foreigners in Białystok on the implementation of the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the recommendations of the KMPT from the visit of the facility in 2018 available at: https://bit.ly/3Mjx5n9.

[17] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[18] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[19] Commissioner for Human Rights, visit in detention centre in Lesznowola on 8 February 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3pm3PSA.

[20] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[21] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[22] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[23] Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to the Regional Courts, 25 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3HnQZJL. See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV

[24] Information provided by the Border Guards, 5 February 2021, Commissioner for Human Rights, Wyciąg, Strzeżony Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców w Białej Podlaskiej, 18-19 July 2018, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2TBZ3OY.

[25] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[26] Information provided by Border Guards, 25 January 2023.

[27] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[28] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[29] Commissioner for Human Rights, visit in detention centre in Wędrzyn in October, available at https://bit.ly/3HrbNQJ.

[30] See also: POLAND: CRUELTY NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV

[31] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[32] See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV.

[33] Commissioner for Human Right, Riot in detention centre in Wędrzyn, in 2021, https://bit.ly/3C1C2w6.

[34] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[35] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[36] Commissioner for Human Rights, Jak usprawnić rozpatrywanie wniosków o ochronę międzynarodową. Odpowiedź Urzędu ds. Cudzoziemców, available at: https://bit.ly/3VPd3py.

[37] OKO.press, Kolejny strajk w ośrodku zamkniętym. Tym razem w Krośnie Odrzańskim głoduje 22 Egipcjan, Avaiable in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3NW2vTK.

[38] Egala Association, Hunger strajk in Białystok, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3BektJE.

[39] Hunger strike in Wędrzyn. Dr. Machinska: “The center is below the prison standard; it needs to be liquidated”. January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/340szZ.

[40] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[41] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[42] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[43] Commissioner for Human Rights, Visit in detention centre in Przemyśl in February 2022, https://bit.ly/3pm3PSA. RPO, Wizytacja KMPT w Pomieszczeniu dla Osób Zatrzymanych Placówki Straży Granicznej w Medyce oraz w Strzeżonym Ośrodku dla Cudzoziemców i Areszcie dla Cudzoziemców w Przemyślu, Note From the NPM’s visit to the Guarded Center and Arest for Foreigners in Przemyśl, Available in Polish https://bit.ly/40qJUSd.

[44] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[45] Supreme Audit Office, Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[46] Commissioner for Human Rights, visit in detention centre in Wędrzyn in January 2022, https://bit.ly/3M7oXpx. Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY, See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV

[47] Information provided by the Border Guard, 2023.

[48] There was 1 computer for 56 foreigners in October 2021 and 1 computer for 30 foreigners in November 2021, in detention centre in the same period there was 1 computer for 6 foreigners.

[49] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[50] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[51] CPT Report 2018, 28; available at: https://bit.ly/2HVZItc. See also Commissioner for Human Rights, Wyciąg Strzeżony Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców w Białej Podlaskiej, 7 January 2019, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2TBZ3OY.

[52] Information provided by the Border Guard, 2023.

[53] See also: POLAND: CRUELTY NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV

[54] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[55] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[56] Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to the Regional Courts, 25 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3HnQZJL. See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV.

[57]  Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[58] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[59] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[60] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[61] Krosno Odrzańskie, 3 March 2023.

[62] Information provided by the Border Guard, 7 January 2023.

[63] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[64] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[65] Foreigners in administrative detention. Results of the KMPT monitoring in guarded centres for foreigners in Poland, March 2021, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3L0F5YZ, Commissioner for Human Rights, Letter to the Regional Courts, 25 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3HnQZJL. SIP, We present our comments to the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, June 2022, available (in English) at: https://bit.ly/3LNUIoo.

[66] Regulation on education foreigners and Polish citizens who were learning abroad, 23 August 2017, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2XkPupP.

[67]  Articles 415(1)(5) and 417 Law on Foreigners.

[68] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[69] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY,

[70] Information provided by PFM, RPO, Pomoc psychologiczna w strzeżonych ośrodkach dla cudzoziemców – także ze strony NGO-sów, Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2023, available in Polish, https://bit.ly/3UYK1mV,  RPO, October 2022 available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3AlWV58.

[71] See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English at: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV.

[72] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[73] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[74] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[75] SIP Input by civil society organisations to the Asylum Report 2023, available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/3puNKgA.

[76] RPO, Pomoc psychologiczna w strzeżonych ośrodkach dla cudzoziemców – także ze strony NGO-sów, Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2023, available in Polish, https://bit.ly/3UYK1mV,  RPO, October 2022 available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3AlWV58.

[77] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[78] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[79] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[80] HFHR, Rights of persons deprived of liberty-fundamental legal and practical issues. HFHR perspective, July 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2SktNaF.

[81] RPO, Notatka służbowa z wizytacji KMPT w Strzeżonym Ośrodku i Areszcie dla Cudzoziemców w Przemyślu. Styczeń 2023, Note From the NPM’s visit to the Guarded Center and Arest for Foreigners in Przemyśl, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/40wwyno.

[82] RPO, Notatka służbowa z wizytacji KMPT w Strzeżonym Ośrodku i Areszcie dla Cudzoziemców w Przemyślu. Styczeń 2023, Note From the NPM’s visit to the Guarded Center and Arrest for Foreigners in Przemyśl, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/40wwyno.

[83] Information provided by Border Guard in Kętrzyn, 9 March2023.

[84] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[85] Border Guard Commander, Krosno Odrzańskie, information, 3 March 2023.

[86] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[87] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[88] [Sytuacja cudzoziemców w ośrodkach strzeżonych w dobie kryzysu na granicy Polski i Białorusi Raport z wizytacji Krajowego Mechanizmu Prewencji Tortur, [Situation of foreigners in the guarded centres in times of crisis on the border of Poland and Belarus”, Report NPM, June 2022, available in Polish here: https://bit.ly/3URYZek.

[89] Information provided by Border Guard, 25 January 2022 and 7 March 2023.

[90] Preparation of state bodies in case of a mass influx of foreigners to Poland, Supreme Audit Office, NIK, Przygotowanie organów państwa na wypadek masowego napływu cudzoziemców do Polski, available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3mWDvQY.

[91] See also: Poland: Cruelty Not Compassion, At Europe’s Other Borders, April 2022, available in English here: https://bit.ly/3mOh2FV.

[92] Information from PFM, March 2023, RPO, Pomoc psychologiczna w strzeżonych ośrodkach dla cudzoziemców – także ze strony NGO-sów, Commissioner for Human Rights, March 2023, available in Polish, https://bit.ly/3UYK1mV, RPO, October 2022 available in Polish: https://bit.ly/3AlWV58.

[93] Foreigners in administrative detention. Results of the KMPT monitoring in guarded centres for foreigners in Poland, March 2021, available in Polish at https://bit.ly/3L0F5YZ.

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