The Public Defender of Rights

Protection of Persons Restricted in their Freedom

Facilities for the Detention of Foreigners

Visits and Activities in 2007

Visits to two reception centres for asylum seekers in the Czech Republic were carried out in the third quarter of 2007, the centre in Vyšní Lhoty and the centre in Prague-Ruzyně.

Both facilities were founded by the Refugee Establishments Administration of the Ministry of the Interior. Each centre has a different regime.

The Prague-Ruzyně centre is a place where asylum seekers are concentrated within the so-called “airport procedure” (Section 73 of the Act on Asylum). Asylum seekers should be placed here for a relatively short time given the legislation and the structural and technical design of the facility. In practice however, some asylum seekers are placed at the centre for the whole period of the asylum proceedings (at the time of the inquiry, some asylum seekers were placed there until a court decides on their action against the decision on the denial of asylum; in many cases waiting until the Supreme Administrative Court would decide on a cassation complaint). As for the total length of the stay, the situation was somewhat complicated by the amendment to the Act on Asylum effective from December 21, 2007 (amendment No. 379/2007 Coll.), which sets a maximum of 120 days for a stay at the airport facility (then the asylum seeker must be transferred to another facility in the Czech Republic regardless of whether a court has decided in the matter). The defender finds the standard of housing to be inconvenient given the potential 4-month stay.

The Vyšní Lhoty facility is a centre where the asylum seekers stay until the acts listed in the law are taken (identification acts, medical examination, end of quarantine). Then they are transferred to other sojourn centres in the Czech Republic.

Follow-up visits were also made to two facilities for the detention of foreigners in 2007 (Poštorná and Bělá-Jezová). An individual visit was made to the facility in Velké Přílepy (see also Part III, section 2.15) at a time when it temporarily served as a branch of the Prague-Ruzyně Reception Centre.

The follow-up visits verified that the Defender’s recommendations had been implemented with respect to the provision of language versions of advice forms. The Refugee Establishments Administration of the Ministry of the Interior also shows efforts to accommodate foreigners separately based on national criteria; arresters on the outside of the doors to the foreigners‟ rooms have been removed, the conditions in the high security regime have improved (toilets separated from the rest of the rooms by a non-transparent partition, multiple language versions of the internal rules posted in the high security cells), the practice of placing foreigners with self-mutilation tendencies in the high security regime and the generally practiced presence of security personnel during visits received by the foreigners have been abandoned. The technical condition of the dwelling parts of the facility has been improved (shower curtains, mirrors, electric kettles, etc.). The position of pregnant women has also generally improved, in particular in terms of catering.

On the contrary, the Refugee Establishments Administration was not successfully persuaded of the necessity to establish lockable cabinets for the foreigners, to remove bars from the foreigners‟ rooms so that they can regulate ventilation and heating without difficulty and to create foreign-language texts that would acquaint foreigners with the effects and nature of the medication they receive and the nature of the investigation acts they must undergo in the facilities. The Defender will continue to discuss the implementation of the aforementioned measures with the founder of the relevant facilities.

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