Conditions in detention facilities


Country Report: Conditions in detention facilities Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

Overall conditions

Persons held in Padinska Skela are accommodated in two separate parts, with the male part comprising 6 rooms, and the female one comprising 3 rooms, and where usually families who do not wish to apply for asylum are accommodated.[1] Each room has radiators and hygienic facilities that are in good condition and properly isolated. The rooms are well lit, with ample access to sunlight as well as proper electric lighting, and the windows are large enough to allow for ventilation. The rooms were refurbished in the course of 2019.

Both parts have a living room, bathroom and yard. Meals are also served in the living room. Detainees have the right to reside in the living room during the day and are entitled to a walk outside for 2 hours.

The issue that gives cause for most concern regarding life in the centre is the lack of meaningful activities and adequate communication between staff and detainees.

Foreigners may express the intention to seek asylum and to have access to legal aid, including NGOs and UNHCR.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, all detainees were transferred to RC Obrenovac, while after July 2020, a special premise for isolation and quarantine were designated for newly arrived detainees. No COVID-19 cases were recorded in Padinska Skela.

No information is available yet about the conditions new detention centres in Dimitrovgrad and Plandište.


Conditions in penitentiary facilities

Conditions in the penitentiaries where asylum seekers and migrants are detained if convicted in misdemeanour proceedings vary depending on the individual facility. The Serbian system for the implementation of criminal sanctions has suffered from overcrowding for many years, while conditions in certain facilities may amount to inhumane and degrading treatment as a result of poor living conditions, a lack of meaningful activities and the lack of communication with the staff and outside world.

The penitentiaries that are located in the border zones are the ones in which persons likely in need of international protection are usually detained at, such as the County Prison in Vranje (Southern border zone) and the Correctional Facility in Sremska Mitrovica (Western border area).


Conditions in transit zones

The airport transit premises have a size of 80m2 and are equipped with 25 sofas and some blankets. There are no adequate conditions for sleeping and the ventilation is unsatisfactory. The foreigners are locked up all day long. The toilet is located within the premises and is in an acceptable condition.

In 2019, the Special Rapporteur for Torture described material conditions as inadequate for the purposes of detention. The main shortcomings are described as follows:

‘The material conditions in this room were inadequate for the purposes of detention, the main shortcomings being the absence of beds and heating, deplorable hygienic and sanitary conditions and constant artificial lighting. When tested, the tap water was not running, the premises visibly had not been cleaned for an extended period of time and all seven persons who were held there were obliged to spend the night sitting in armchairs. However, they had all received meals provided by the airport police.’[2]

The newly established premises at the Nikola Tesla airport are still not considered as suitable for facilitation of asylum procedure. There are no reports which describe the look of the new detention rooms.




[1] However, in practice, it is rare that families are detained during the course of asylum procedure. Not a single case has been reported in the past couple of years.

[2] Special Rapporteur for Torture, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, A/HRC/40/59/Add.1, 25 January 2019, para 48.

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