Article 62-bis of the Aliens Act provides that civil society organisations defending migrants and international bodies can visit CIE under the conditions foreseen by way of regulation.
The seventh section of the CIE Regulation thus concerns participation and cooperation of NGOs. In particular, Article 58 foresees the possibility to contract NGOs for the provision of services of social assistance inside the centres. Following the adoption of the Regulation in 2014, a contract was signed in 2015 between the Spanish Red Cross and the Ministry of Interior. In addition, Article 59 of the Regulation allows organisations working with migrants to receive a special accreditation to enter CIE and conduct monitoring of the detained persons. Detained migrants could also be able to contact an organisation to which they wish to speak. Before this agreement, the CIE had a stronger penitentiary character and social assistance to detainees was much more limited.
These provisions have been very much welcomed by the Spanish civil society committed to migrants’ rights protection, as they enable their regular access to the centres, which can make a significant difference in improving conditions of detention for third-country nationals. In particular, a better identification of the most vulnerable groups or persons with particular needs can be assured, as no specific mechanism with this aim has been established by the state.Throughout recent years, the Ombudsman reiterated several recommendations with the aim of improving social, legal and cultural assistance in CIEs, as well as the necessity for a deeper reform of such facilities. In its Annual Report published in 2020, the body expresses concerns on the necessity of establishing common guidelines for the management of the social, legal and cultural assistance at CIEs. It further highlighted that the provision of such services based on the current internal regulation is not in line with applicable standards. There is also a general lack of proper health assistance. The Jesuit Migrant Service denounced the same deficiencies, as well as the obstacles that NGOs face in accessing CIEs.