Place of detention

Poland

Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

There are two types of detention centres in Poland, both used for detaining asylum seekers and foreigners subject to return procedures.

 

Guarded centres

 

These are 6 such centres with a total capacity of 494 (down from 590 in 2018 and 608 in 2017) places for foreigners, located in:

 

Capacity and occupancy of guarded centres: 2018 – 2019

 

Centre

Maximum capacity

Occupancy end 2018

Occupancy end 2019

Biała Podlaska

130

32

19

Białystok

122

20

69

Lesznowola

50

46

33

Kętrzyn

122

25

11

Krosno Odrzańskie

64

55

32

Przemyśl

102

38

14

Total

590

216

178

Source: Border Guard, 18 January 2020.

 

Currently in three detention centres (Białystok, Krosno Odrzańskie, Lesznowola) only men are held and in another three (Kętrzyn, Biała Podlaska, Przemyśl) only families with school-age children are held. Additionally, Border Guard plan to build a new building for families with children in guarded centre in Lesznowola in 2020 and 2021.  

In one of the centres (Kętrzyn), there is a separate part for unaccompanied irregular migrant children.[1] Families are placed together in one room as far as possible both under the law[2] and in practice.[3] The single men are placed in rooms according to their nationality or preferences. In addition, there is a possibility to change a room on a foreigner’s justified demand.[4] There are 2 places for individuals with a certificate of disability in Kętrzyn.

 

“Rigorous detention centres” (areszt dla cudzoziemców)

 

The term, literally translated as “arrests for foreigners”, replaced that of “pre-removal centres” as of 1 May 2014. These facilities impose more rigorous conditions of detention than guarded centres.[5] Until December 2012 there were 5 such centres. Currently, there is one centre with a capacity of 33 places in Przemyśl for men and women.[6]

An asylum seeker can be placed in a more rigorous detention centre for foreigners only if there is a risk that they will not obey the rules in force in a guarded centre or the applicant has already disobeyed these rules.[7] These detention centres are more prison-like than guarded centres. An asylum seeker placed in such a centre cannot freely move around (he or she is closed in the ward), cannot go outside for a walk whenever he or she wants except for two hours per day etc.[8]

All detention centres are for migration-related purposes and the SG is in charge of their management. Asylum seekers are never placed in regular prisons with ordinary prisoners, but stay together with migrants in an irregular situation in a guarded centre or rigorous detention centre. There is no special facility where only asylum seekers are detained. The SG officers who run the centres are trained and there are no major issues reported concerning the staff behaviour. It was reported that in 2013 and in 2014 in some centres the SG addressed foreigners by numbers assigned to them in their administrative files or used bad language.[9] NGOs visiting detention centres noticed a positive change in that matter.

This SG’s behaviour was reported in 2017 in CPT report on Poland.[10]. Detainees in guarded centers in Lesznowola and Białystok complained about racist remarks, being called by their case numbers and being woken up at night by officers verifying their presence. Border Guards officers were using flash light, removing blankets and slamming the door. In response to the CPT report, the management of the guarded centre for foreigners in Białystok was obliged to cease such procedures, i.e. by ordering night checks only if they are absolutely necessary.[11] The CPT delegation also highlighted the problem of violence between detainees and recommended applying appropriate measures to combat it, i.e. by identifying victims and perpetrators, reporting cases of violence and investigating incidents.[12] There were no reports on these problems in 2019.

On the other hand, Border Guard officers who are on duty in the detention centre of Krosno Odrzańskie do not have any identifiers with their name or official identification number.[13]

The design and layout of some of the centres create the impression of a very prison-like environment: thick walls, bars in the windows and on the corridors. In addition all centres are surrounded by high walls topped with barbed wire. In 2015 the Polish authorities decided to remove bars in the windows in the detention centres and install special secure windows in Lesznowola, and in Kętrzyn, which do not have handles. On the other hand, in the detention centre in Biała Podlaska, where families with children are staying, windows still have bars.[14]

The Border Guard plan to remove bars in Biała Podlaska detention centre in 2020 and install special secure windows.[15]

 


[1] Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019; Article 414(4) Law on Foreigners.

[2] Article 414(3) and (5) Law on Foreigners.

[3] HFHR and Association for Legal Intervention, Wciąż za kratami, 2014, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/1JBxxXm, 17. Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019.

[4] Information provided by the Border Guard, 18 January 2020.

[5]  Order No 23 of the Ministry of Interior of 1 July 2014 on the designation of areas in which the arrest for foreigners is executed.

[6] Information provided by the Border Guard, 14 and 25 January 2019.

[7]Article 88a(2) Law on Protection.

[8]  Centrum Pomocy Prawnej im. Haliny Nieć, K. Przybysławska (Ed.), Monitoring of Forced Returns from Poland July 2014-June 2015, 35-36.

[9] HFHR and Association for Legal Intervention, Wciąż za kratami, 2014, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/1JBxxXm, 24.

[10] Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 22 May 2017, 25 July 2018 (hereafter ‘CPT report 2018’), available at: https://bit.ly/2HVZItc, 23.

[11] Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 22 May 2017, 25 July 2018 (hereafter ‘CPT report 2018’), available at: https://bit.ly/2HVZItc, 23.

[12] Report to the Polish Government on the visit to Poland carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 22 May 2017, 25 July 2018 (hereafter ‘CPT report 2018’), available at: https://bit.ly/2HVZItc, 23.

[13]Commissioner for Human Rights, Wyciąg Strzeżony Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców w Krośnie Odrzańskim, 30 January 2018, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/2F2ptCr.

[14]Commissioner for Human Rights, Wyciag Strzezony Ośrodek dla Cudzoziemców w Białej Podlaskiej, 18-19 July 2018, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2TBZ3OY.

[15] Information provided by the Border Guard, 18 January 2020.

 

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