General information on rights, obligations and the procedure
The Asylum Act provides that the asylum seeker has the right to be informed, at the time of submission of the asylum application or later, within 15 days from the filing of the application, in a language which he or she understands or is reasonably supposed to understand, regarding the procedure, his or her rights and obligations during the asylum procedure, the consequences of non-compliance with these obligations and the lack of cooperation with the competent authorities, as well as the consequences of an explicit or implicit withdrawal of the asylum application.
Competent officials are also obliged to inform asylum seekers about how they can contact non-governmental organisations and UNHCR, and how to obtain legal assistance and representation.
The information has to be provided in writing by the official responsible for receiving the asylum application, according to a template established by order of the Director-General of IGI.Where necessary for the proper understanding of the information, this may also be communicated orally at the preliminary interview.
In practice, the modalities of information in the different Regional Centres are as follows:
Timișoara: The director of the centre said that asylum seekers are informed about the house rules (ROI) upon their arrival in the centre by the officers at the access point of the regional centre. IGI-DAI has leaflets in 6-7 languages and posters with their rights and obligations are displayed in the building where they are accommodated, according to the director of the centre. However, the Ombusdman reported, no information on their rights and obligations or ROI were displayed in the accommodation rooms visited. The director of the centre stated that the day after the asylum seekers’ the arrival in centre, they are gathered in groups and the integration officer provides them general information on their rights and obligations with the help of an interpreter. NGOs are also invited to participate at these meetings. In general, these group meetings were helpd everytime a new group arrived in the centre. As regards the information for the unaccompanied children this is done in the same way as for adults and there are no adapted leaflets. The JRS representative confirmed that in 2021 IGI-DAI used to organise group information sessions once a week with the psychologist, medical staff, integration officer, Urdu/Pashto interpreter and AIDRom cultural facilitator and all the NGOs. However, since Septemeber/November 2021 no information seesions have been organized. During the sessions asylum seekers were informed about their rights and obligations and ROI and no information was provided on the asylum procedure, according to the JRS representative.
With regard to children, the JRS representative reported that she has not seen any difference in interactions with IGI-DAI compared to adults. The director stated that children receive the same leaflets as the adult asylum seekers. This was still the same in 2020 and 2021.
CNRR also distributes leaflets on the asylum procedure, including rights and obligations. It also developed leaflets on the specially designed closed spaces of the centre (see Place of Detention).
Şomcuta Mare: information sessions are held by the director of the regional centre when asylum seekers are transferred from Timișoara, with the help of an interpreter or the cultural facilitator of AIDRom, according to the JRS representative. Subsequently, collective information meetings are held by the NGO representatives. 2020 was a challenging year due to the influx of asylum seekers and 2021 was more difficult due to the high number of arrivals. Unaccompanied children are counselled in the same manner as the adults, but more attention is afforded to them.
Rădăuţi: no collective information sessions were held in 2020 or in 2021, according to a stakeholder. The JRS representative reported that in 2021 only one or two group session were held by IGI-DAI. In previous years, once asylum seekers had arrived at the centre, they received leaflets on their rights and obligations together with the house rules (ROI). This was the case for a period, but not anymore. The rules of the centre and their rights and obligations are published in the hallways, in Arabic, Pashto and Somali languages. In their files there are signed papers, proving that the asylum seekers received written information on their rights and obligations. Subsequently, the information about asylum seekers’ rights and obligations and the procedure is provided by the NGOs individually.
Galaţi: when asylum seekers are accommodated in the centre there is no information privision. Information is provided 24-48h after their arrival in the centre. Group information sessions with around 40 asylum seekers were held in 2021. IGI-DAI provided the information in Romanian and the NGO representatives or AIDRom cultural facilitators, when present, translated. General information on their rights, obligations, ROI, Dublin Procedure, services provided by each NGO and the possibility of anti-COVID vaccination was provided during these sessions. With the asylum seekers evacuated by Romania from Afghanistan information session were held in smaller groups.
Bucharest: in 2021 in general asylum seekers received information on ROI from the officers at the access point of the regional centre. Group information sessions were held before asylum seekers were moved from Vasile Stolnicu centre to Tudor Gociu centre or when Dublin returnees were accommodated in the centre. The information was provided in English or with the help of the cultural facilitators of AIDRom, who speak Arabic. For Dublin returnees, information on ROI was also provided by the access point of the regional centre. The JRS representative was unaware if the sessions were also held for the asylum seekers transferred from Timisoara. NGO representatives organised separate information sessions. The director of Vasile Stolnicu centre reported that upon their arrival, asylum seekers receive written information in their language or in a language that it is reasonably believed they know on their rights and obligations and the asylum procedure. Unaccompanied minors were informed in the same way as the adults.
JRS Romania developed a platform on the asylum procedure in Romania, with general and specific information on seeking asylum in Romania, the different procedures (e.g. Dublin, border procedure, etc.) and information for minors. The platform is available in several languages: English, French, Arabic, Pashtu and Kurdish. In 2020 information will be added in Turkish, Farsi and Somali.Practitioners mainly use the platform, but it might also be helpful for literate asylum the interview and have free time.
NGOs provide information through counselling sessions, posters and sometimes leaflets. However, due to the fact that the asylum seekers in most of the cases are not reading the leaflets, NGOs are focusing on individual or group counselling.
Giurgiu: According to the director of the centre, upon their arrival in the centre, asylum seekers received written information with their rights and obligations and information on the asylum procedure. Afterwards they were counselled by the NGOs and medical nurse on the possibility of anti-COVID vaccinations. During the warmer seasons weekly group information sessions were held outside with the cultural facilitators from AIDRom, medical nurse and psychologist. Information on anti-COVID vaccinations, the asylum procedure and their rights and obligations were provided. During the winter information sessions were not held so often; asylum seekers were gathered in the hallway. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were informed in the same way as adults, but in more detail.
According to the JRS representative, in 2021, group and individual information was provided by IGI and NGOs, with the assistance of cultural facilitators. Asylum seekers were regularly informed about their obligation to comply with pandemic measures, as well as, on their rights and obligations and hygienic materials were distributed (antibacterial gels/soaps, masks, disinfectants). When asylum seekers arrived from Timisoara, the director, integration officer, logistician and cultural facilitators were present. She mentioned that great emphasis was given to vaccinatiosn and cleaning during these sessions.
The majority of respondents pointed out that the written information they receive from IGI-DAI or NGOs is not very effective as most asylum seekers are illiterate or have difficulty reading through information which is lengthy, complex and, consequently, difficult to comprehend. Thus, asylum seekers prefer face-to-face counseling with an NGO representative in order to understand the steps of the asylum procedure. The information leaflets are not adapted to the asylum seekers’ level of education or knowledge. Usually, the leaflets reiterate the provisions of the Asylum Act. In Somcuta Mare, it was reported that the phone numbers mentioned on the leaflets are used.
In practice, respondents reported that there is no specifically tailored information provided to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. In most of the cases they are informed in the same way as adults, while they are also informed that they will have a legal representative. In general, unaccompanied children do not understand what this means. UNHCR also stated that there is a lack of accessible and adequate information materials for asylum-seeking children. The JRS representative in Radauti reported that Save the Children representatives organised information sessions with visual materials for the children on their rights and obligations.
Information on the Dublin procedure
IGI-DAI has the obligation to inform the asylum seeker of the content of the common leaflet drawn up by the European Commission. The competent officer of IGI-DAI communicates the information contained in the common leaflet, drawn up according to Article 4(3) of the Dublin Regulation. If the applicant is an unaccompanied minor, the designated officer shall provide him or her, in a manner appropriate to his or her level of understanding, with the information contained in the special information leaflet drawn up by the European Commission, supplemented with additional specific information for Romania.
Bucharest: basic information is provided on the Dublin Procedure after the preliminary interview, if there are indications that the asylum seeker is subject to the Dublin Procedure. Afterwards they receive the general leafltet and written information on the country to which a Dublin request was addressed.
Giurgiu: asylum seekers are informed in writing when they make the asylum application, and when the procedure is suspended, according to the director of the centre. If the asylum procedure is suspended due to a hit, they are notified in writing that the case has been suspended, whilst the Dublin procedure is carried out.
Şomcuta Mare: Asylum seekers are informed at the beginning of the asylum procedure about the Dublin procedure and what it entails, by NGOs. Generally, information is provided when a specific issue arises. Information is provided orally. Asylum seekers are informed about the Member State to which a request was sent.
Rădăuţi: Asylum seekers receive the common leaflet and oral information that the Dublin procedure was triggered and the Member State to which a request was sent. According to the JRS representative information on the Dublin procedure is mainly provided by the NGOs.
Galaţi: The JRS representative reported that the majority of the asylum seekers are well informed about the Dublin procedure. General information is provided during the collective information sessions. When the asylum procedure is suspended they receive the common leaflet. Asylum seekers subject to the Dublin procedure are provided with the common brochure. In addition, information about the Dublin procedure is also provided by the NGOs. Where family unity criteria are applicable, asylum seekers are informed by IGI-DAI of the documents they have to present. If they require more information, they are referred to NGOs. Unaccompanied children are informed in the same manner as the adults.
In practice, asylum seekers in most of the Regional Centres are informed orally and in writing of the fact that the Dublin procedure has started, and they are handed the common leaflet. The information is provided with the help of an interpreter in all the centres. In Bucharest asylum seekers are informed about the country to which a Dublin request was addressed in this regard. The JRS representative in Bucharest stated that for this kind of procedure IGI-DAI usually use an interpreter, as the cultural facilitators are present in the centre everyday.
In Timișoara, upon their arrival, when they are fingerprinted asylum seekers receive leaflets, according to the director of the centre. If after checking the fingerprints in Eurodac, IGI-DAI finds a match with the data introduced by another Member State, the asylum seeker is informed orally that he or she is subject to the Dublin procedure. IGI-DAI mentions which country has been contacted. They also receive leaflets, which according to the Director of the centre often end up in the bin. They are also informed by the NGOs and receive leaflets from CNRR. As regards the unaccompanied children IGI-DAI always takes the responsibility to assess their asylum claim, according to the director of the Regional Centre Timișoara.For minors there is no special information leaflet, the director said. In 2021, the majority of asylum seekers who were subject to the Dublin procedure left the country, according to the director of the centre. The JRS representative stated that leaflets on the Dublin procedure are provided by NGOs; she had not come across a Dublin leaflet provided by IGI-DAI. Asylum seekers turn to NGOs for more information on the procedure.
In Şomcuta Mare, asylum seekers are also informed orally of the beginning of the Dublin procedure and the State contacted. In Rădăuţi, during the preliminary interview IGI-DAI informs asylum seekers in writing that they are subject to the Dublin procedure, provides them the common leaflet, and specifies the Member State which has been contacted, with the assistance of an interpreter. In Giurgiu, they are also informed orally of the fact that a Dublin procedure has been initiated, while the authorities also mention the country contacted. In Galaţi, however, asylum seekers are informed orally and in writing about the time frame of the procedure, the possibility to appeal the decision and about the country what has been contacted.
If the applicant is an unaccompanied child, the appointed official shall apprise him or her, in a manner appropriate to his or her level of understanding, of the information contained in the special information brochure drawn up by the European Commission according to Article 4(3) of the Dublin Regulation, supplemented with additional specific information for Romania.The legal representative of the unaccompanied childconfirms by signature that the information has been provided.
Şomcuta Mare: The JRS representative reported that there were no unaccompanied minors under the Dublin procedure in 2021. The JRS representative was not aware if he was informed about the Dublin procedure or how was he informed.
Rădăuţi: The information is provided in the presence of the legal representative, because he has to sign the notification. The legal representative does not explain to the child what the procedure entails. The case officer explains some of the aspects of the procedure with the help of an interpreter. The legal representative is only present when this information is provided, without giving any other information. Subsequently, the unaccompanied minor turns to the legal counsellor for further information. At the preliminary interview, the unaccompanied children are informed about the fact that they will be transferred to the responsible Member State.
 Article 17(1)(f) Asylum Act.
 Article 2(2) Asylum Decree.
 Article 2(1) Asylum Decree.
 Romanian Ombudsman, Report of the visit in the Regional Centre Timisoara, of 25 June 2021, p.6, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/3L2ylcS
 Asylum Procedure Platform, available at: https://bit.ly/3d2dZQK.
 Article 118 Asylum Act.
 Article 118(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 118(2) Asylum Act.