Detention of vulnerable applicants


Country Report: Detention of vulnerable applicants Last updated: 30/11/20


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Specially designed closed spaces


Asylum detention, i.e. placement in specially designed closed spaces, cannot be ordered against unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, except for cases where the unaccompanied child cannot prove his or her age and, due to serious doubts thereon, IGI-DAI requests an age assessment.[1]


Detention (“public custody”) centres


The Public Custody Centres Regulation explicitly provides that children cannot be detained in these centres, unless they are accompanied by at least one of the parents or their legal representative, who are taken into public custody.[2]


According to the amended Aliens Act, in case the foreigner declares that he or she is a minor and cannot prove his or her age, if there are serious doubts about his minority, he or she will be considered an adult.[3] In this situation, IGI requests an age assessment, with his or her prior consent.[4] As a consequence the child will be treated as an adult and placed in detention pending the age assessment, until his or her age is confirmed.


While IGI-DAI stated that children are not detained in public custody,[5] according to JRS, 80 children (accompanied and unaccompanied) were detained in public custody centres in 2017. In 2017, 4 unaccompanied children were placed in the Otopeni detention centre, even though they had been registered as such by the Border Police. While in detention they lodged an asylum application and, after the personal interview, IGI-DAI granted them access to regular procedure on account of their minority.


The JRS representative reported that in 2019 there were no children placed in the Public Custody Centre Arad. However, according to the Director of the Centre Arad, a family from Turkey with a 5-year-old daughter was placed in detention in April 2019. They stayed in Arad for 4 days. According to the Ombudsman, a 4 years old child, accompanied by one of the parents, was detained in Arad.[6]


According to IGI-DAI, 1 minor accompanied by one of the parents was detained in 2019.[7]


Romanian law does not prohibit detention of other vulnerable asylum seekers. IGI-DAI noted that detention of persons with special needs such as victims of torture or trafficking has not been applied in public custody.[8]


According to the Director of the Public Custody Centre of Arad, 20 persons with medical problems were detained. During 2019, there were two single women with mental problems detained in Arad. According to the JRS representative, they also made asylum applications, but they were rejected under accelerated procedure.


In Otopeni, the JRS representative reported that there were vulnerable persons detained, with medical and psychological issues. They were identified as such by the NGOs. IGI granted tolerated status to those considered by them as vulnerable. The average duration of detention in case of vulnerable persons identified as such by the NGOs was 1-9 months.


The number of accompanied children placed in detention in Arad in 2017 was 35, according to the director of the centre. In 2018, a single-parent family, a father with a 10-year-old child, was placed in detention. A family with three children from Iraq, who arrived in Romania by boat in 2017, were also held in Arad until June 2018 when they were granted tolerated status and moved to Bucharest. In 2019 there was only one child detained in Arad.


In Otopeni, according to the JRS representative there were no children detained in 2019. According to the Ombudsman, in 2018 there were 2 children (5 and 15-year-old) detained.[9] It was also reported by the Ombudsman that at the time of their visit there were no records of vulnerable persons detained.[10]


Save the Children stated that IGI doesn’t officially take children in public custody, but children can be in public custody when they are sent there together with their parents – considering that it is in their best interest not to be separated from their family.

[1]Article 19^5 Asylum Act, in conjunction with Article 42(2) Asylum Act.

[2]Article 29 Public Custody Centres Regulation.

[3]Article 131^1(1) Aliens Act, as amended by Act 247/2018 of 6 November 2018.

[4]Article 131^1(2) Aliens Act, as amended by Act 247/2018 of 6 November 2018.

[5]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 14 February 2018.

[6]Ombudsman, Report 52/2019, p.3.

[7]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 20 February 2020.

[8]Information provided by IGI-DAI, 14 February 2018.

[9]Ombudsman, Report 68/2018, available in Romanian at:



Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation