Country Report: General Last updated: 23/03/21


Nikola Kovačević

The possibility of placing asylum seekers under detention in Serbia is prescribed by the Asylum Act. In 2020 the Asylum Office rarely resorted to such measures, and only issued 3 decisions to detain asylum seekers in order to ensure their presence in the asylum procedure. Asylum seekers are detained in Detention Centers for Foreigners in Padinska Skela.

Also, persons who are likely in need of international protection (and who are not recognised as asylum seekers) can be detained in the Detention Centre for Foreigners in Padinska Skela on grounds which are set in the Foreigners Act, mainly for the purpose of forcible removal.[1] However, the Ministry of Interior has stopped providing statistical data in 2018.[2] Overall, persons who are likely to be in need of international protection can be detained on various grounds. This may occur as a result of a conviction for illegal entry or stay in Serbia without having invoked the benefits of Article 8 of the Asylum Act or being held in the airport transit zone in a completely arbitrary manner (see Access to the Territory).

Detention Centre for Foreigners in Padinska Skela is the only official institution established for the purpose of detaining migrants or asylum seekers. It is located in Belgrade and has the maximum capacity of 80.[3] In 2020, the reconstruction and expansion of the centre’s capacity continued, and it will become operational during 2021. The bedrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, and Detention Centre management offices were renovated in 2019.

The cooperation between BCHR and the Detention Center for Foreigners was less intensive during 2020. One of the reasons was the fact that all foreigners were transferred from Padinska Skela to RC Obrenovac during the State of Emergency. In other words, the Detention Centre was not functioning for more than 3 months. It became operational in July 2020.

Not a single foreigner detained was issued with the registration certificate in 2020. The BCHR’s lawyers were informed on several occasions about foreigners who wished to receive information on asylum in Serbia. However, the case of Iranian family who was expelled to Bulgaria against their will indicates that CSOs providing free legal aid should always be informed on the date of forcible removal in order to assess if the persons in question are in need of international protection.

The Detention centre for Foreigners does not have translators, medical experts and psychologist as members of permanent staff.


[1] Articles 87 and 88 Foreigners Act.

[2] However, according the Ombudsman reports, it can determine that at least 13 foreigners were forcibly removed to third countries or countries of origin in 2020. The MoI forcibly removed citizens of Turkey (1), China (1), Afghanistan (1) and Croatia (1) to their countries of origin, and 1 Pakistani to Romania and 3 Iranians and 1 Iraqi to Bulgaria.

[3]  Article 3(1)(28) Foreigners Act.

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