Specially designed closed spaces
Before the recast Reception Conditions Directive, Romania only detained foreigners subject to removal. An asylum detention regime was established following the transposition of the Directive, taking the form of a specially designed closed place i.e. locked rooms in each Regional Centre, except Giurgiu.
Detention in a specially designed closed space is ordered in writing, for a period of 30 days, by an order motivated in fact and in law by the designated prosecutor within the Prosecutor's Office attached to the Court of Appeal territorially competent for the area where the Regional Centre is located, upon a motivated request by IGI. Romania does not apply this form of detention in practice. Since the entry into force of the reform on 20 April 2016 and until today, only one applicant in Bucharest has been subject to asylum detention, as he was considered dangerous for public order. The reasons behind the lack of use of the specially designed closed spaces of the reception centres include lack of staff, as well as unsuitable facilities to meet the standard requirements for detention, especially concerning daily meals.
Public custody centres
The 2015 reform also amended the provisions of the Aliens Ordinance regarding the situation of foreigners who lodge an asylum application from detention. Whereas prior to 2015 the Aliens Ordinance required the release of foreigners from detention as soon as a first application for international protection was lodged, the Aliens Ordinance now prescribes that an asylum seeker is only released when he or she is granted access to the regular procedure in Romania.
The law defines the measure of taking a person into “public custody” as a temporary restriction of the freedom of movement on the territory of Romania, ordered against foreigners in order to accomplish all the necessary steps for removal or transfer under the Dublin Regulation under escort. In practice, however, it constitutes a measure of deprivation of liberty.
There are 2 detention centres, known as Centres for Accommodation of Foreigners Taken into Public Custody (Centrul de Cazare a Străinilor luaţi în Custodie Publică), located in Otopeni, near Bucharest, and Arad, near Timișoara. The centres are manged by IGI and are specially designed for temporary accommodation of foreigners taken into public custody.
Detention (“public custody”) is ordered in writing by an order, justified in law and in fact by the designated prosecutor within the Prosecutor's Office attached to the Court of Appeal of Bucharest, upon a motivated request by IGI.
In general asylum seekers are not detained. The main categories of asylum seekers detained are those who applied for asylum from detention and their application was assessed in accelerated procedure.
During 2019, 71 asylum applications were made from public custody centre, of which 46 from Arad and 25 from Otopeni. A total of 377 persons were detained in public custody in the course of 2019, while 51 remained in detention at the end of the year.
Arad: During the author’s visit to the Public Custody Centre of Arad on 21 October 2019, there were 31 foreigners in detention and no asylum seekers. According to the JRS representative, until 18 October 2019, 10 asylum applications were made in the Public Custody Centre of Arad, out of which 4 (3 Iraq, 1 Sri Lanka) were assessed in regular procedure and 6 (1 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1 Tunisia, 1 Palestine, 1 Kosovo, 2 Iraq) in accelerated procedure. According to the Ombudsman, between 1 January 2019 and 24 September 2019, 159 persons (148 men and 10 women) and one minor accompanied by one of his or her parents were detained in Arad. According to the Director of Public Custody Centre Arad, in the first 6 months of 2019, 23 asylum applications were made.
Otopeni: The JRS representative assisted 52 persons detained in the Public Custody Centre of Otopeni, out of which 5 were first-time asylum seekers.
The law prescribes a deadline of 3 days for IGI-DAI to assess the asylum application of an applicant who is in detention and to issue a motivated decision. Therefore in these cases the procedure is rapidly conducted. Asylum seekers cannot prepare for the personal interview, as they have no time to contact an attorney or a legal counsellor in order to be counselled or assisted at the interview. According to the legal counsellor in Timișoara, personal interviews are rudimentary and the procedure is quickly conducted, also given the mental state of detained asylum seekers.
Article 19^7(1) Asylum Act.
Article 101(1) Aliens Ordinance.
Article 103(3) Aliens Ordinance.
Article 19^14(1) Asylum Act; Article 101(2) Aliens Ordinance.
Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.
[6Ombudsman, Report 52/2019, p.3, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/376XIFG.
Article 19^15(1) Asylum Act.