Access to reception centres by third parties

Poland

Country Report: Access to reception centres by third parties Last updated: 26/05/22

Author

Independent

Asylum seekers staying in the centres have the right to be visited by family members, legal advisors, UNHCR, NGOs, etc. in the rooms intended for that purpose.[1]

Asylum seekers may receive visits in the centre from 9:00 to 16:00 in a place agreed with the employee of the centre. In particularly justified cases the visiting hours in the centre may be prolonged upon permission of the employee of the centre, but not later than 22:00.[2]

Each entry of a non-resident into the premises of the centre requires the permission of:[3]

  • The employee of the centre in the case of asylum seekers receiving social assistance, other than living in this centre;
  • The Head of the Office for Foreigners in other cases.

The Head of the Office for Foreigners or an employee of the centre can refuse to give permission to enter the centre or withdraw it, if this is justified regarding the interest of the third country national or necessary to ensure the safety or for epidemiological and sanitary reasons.[4]

The above-mentioned rules do not apply to the representatives of the UNHCR, who may enter the centre anytime provided that the staff of the centre was notified in advance.[5] As regards NGOs, whose tasks include the provision of assistance to asylum seekers, and entities which provide legal assistance to asylum seekers, the Head of the Office for Foreigners may issue a permit to enter the centre for the period of their activities performed for asylum seekers residing in the centre.[6]

Asylum seekers have access to the information about entities providing free legal assistance. During their stay in the centre, asylum seekers communicate with legal advisers, UNHCR or NGOs mainly by phone, fax, e-mail, etc. (even before the pandemic). Seven out of the eight centres are located in small villages, far away from big cities, where most of the legal advisers, UNHCR and NGOs in Poland have their premises, and accessing them can be an obstacle. As a result, asylum seekers are often contacted only remotely, especially when NGOs do not have the funds for travelling to these centres. Due to the financial problems of NGOs occurring since 2015 (see Regular Procedure),[7] their presence in the centres continues to be limited.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the access to the reception centres. In the periods of March-May and November-December 2020, no permissions to access the reception centres were given and the permissions already given were withdrawn if the presence of persons or organisations in the centre was not indispensable. Giving permissions was resumed only in the second half of 2021 (both to private persons and NGOs). Until then, legal, psychological and educational assistance and activities were continued online or by phone. In the second half of 2021, visitors were allowed to enter the centre if they had no visible symptoms of COVID-19. Their temperature was checked at the entrance.[8]

In October 2021, the Office for Foreigners announced a call for volunteers in reception centres. Their duties will include inter alia assisting asylum seekers with a contact with public authorities and doctors, seeking accommodation, learning Polish and doing homework.[9]

 

 

 

[1] Paras 7-9 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[2] Para 9 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[3] Para 7.2 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[4] Para 7.5 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[5] Para 7.6 and 7.7 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[6] Para 7.4 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[7] See also Pachocka, M. and Sobczak-Szelc K., ‘Refugee Protection Poland – Country Report’, Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond Project (Horizon2020), January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2U1A9uL,35-38, 54; ECRE/UNHCR, ‘Follow the money II. Assessing the use of EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) funding at the national level 2014-2018’, January 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/38h6lin, 43.

[8] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2022.

[9] Office for Foreigners, ‘Wolontariat w ośrodkach dla cudzoziemców’, 25 October 2021, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3CfJjZd.

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