4.8.2 Temporary practical arrangements

In general, health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic were implemented in detention, and newly-arrived detainees needed to quarantine in designated areas, for example in Czechia, Croatia,  Hungary, Ireland and Latvia. In addition, services such as meal distribution were adapted to the new requirements in Luxembourg and quarantine sectors were established in Hungary and Ireland.

In some EU+ countries, the asylum procedure for applicants in detention was temporarily discontinued, while in others, personal interviews/hearings continued through videoconference, for example in Belgium, 683 Czechia 684 (where UNHCR retained its full access) and Latvia.  

The possibility to communicate with and visit detention facilities were often limited or sometimes even prohibited to all visitors and organisations due to health measures or quarantine restrictions, for example in Czechia (with the exception of legal and psychological services), 685 Cyprus, 686  Greece,687  Malta 688 , Romania 689 and Sweden.690  In contrast, Croatia reported that there were no restrictions imposed as measures focused mainly on prevention (health instructions were available in multiple languages at the detention centre, testing was done before entering the detention centre, etc.).

In 2020, detention centres in the majority of EU+ countries were decongested due to the suspension of removals and the subsequent release of third-country nationals, for example in Belgium,691 Finland, Norway, 692 Spain, Slovenia xliii and Sweden. Nonetheless, some countries, like Cyprus,693  Denmark 694 and Slovakia, retained detention. NGOs raised concerns over widespread detention, particularly in France 695 (where authorities emphasised that detention is only used when it is the only way to guarantee the implementation of a return and several procedural guarantees ensure the review of the measure) and Italy. 696  Similarly, they requested the Border Guard to use alternatives to detention or release third-country nationals in Poland, 697 France, 698 Slovakia 699 and Sweden. 700 In Switzerland, Asylex signalled restrictive practices in the cantons which were contrary to the Federal Supreme Court’s ruling that detention pending deportation was unlawful since removal was not enforceable in the foreseeable future. 

The CPT issued a “Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic” on 20 March 2020, underlining that any measures should not result in inhuman or degrading treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.

 

 

 

[xliii] The AIDA report for Slovenia reported that “due to a large number of detainees and the COVID-19 pandemic, the reception conditions in the Centre for Foreigners worsened.” AIDA Slovenia. (2021). Country Report: Slovenia - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (PIC). https://asylumineurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/AIDA-SI_2020update.pdf 
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[683] European Migration Network. (2020). Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin: EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. orway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/00_eu_30_emn_bulletin_annex_covid_19.pdf
[684] European Migration Network. (2020). Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin: EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. orway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/00_eu_30_emn_bulletin_annex_covid_19.pdf
[685] Refugee Facilities Administration of the Ministry of the Interior (RFA MOI) | Správa uprchlických zařízení Ministerstva vnitra (SUZ MV). (2020). Omezení návštěv v ZZC Balková [Restrictions on visits to the FDF Balková]. http://www.suz.cz/omezeni-navstev-v-zzc-balkova/ 
[686] Το περί Λοιμοκαθάρσεως (Καθορισμός Μέτρων για Παρεμπόδιση της Εξάπλωσης του. Κορωνοϊού COVID-19) Διάταγμα Αρ.6 του 2021, ΦΕΚ 5453 28-01-2021 [Quarantine (Determination of Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19) Decree (No 6) of 2021, Government Gazette 5453 28-01-2021]. https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/28012021_DecreeEN.pdf; Το περί Λοιμοκαθάρσεως (Καθορισμός Μέτρων για Παρεμπόδιση της Εξάπλωσης του. Κορωνοϊού COVID-19) Διάταγμα Αρ.9 του 2021, ΦΕΚ 5474 26-02-2021 [Quarantine (Determination of Measures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19) Decree (No 9 ) of 2021, Government Gazette 5474 26-02-2021]. https://www.pio.gov.cy/coronavirus/uploads/26022021_Decree%20n.9_EN.pdf  
[687]European Migration Network. (2020). Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin: EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. orway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/00_eu_30_emn_bulletin_annex_covid_19.pdf
[688] AIDA Malta. (2021). Country Report: Malta - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by aditus. https://asylumineurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/AIDA-MT_2020update.pdf
[689] AIDA Romania. (2021). Country Report: Romania - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Felicia Nica with the support of JRS Romania. https://asylumineurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/AIDA-RO_2020update.pdf
[690] Swedish Migration Agency | Migrationsverket. (2021, February 12). Infor­ma­tion regar­ding COVID-19. https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/About-the-Migration-Agency/COVID-19.html
[691] European Migration Network. (2020). Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin: EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. orway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/00_eu_30_emn_bulletin_annex_covid_19.pdf
[692] European Migration Network. (2020). Special Annex to the 30th EMN Bulletin: EU Member States & Norway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. orway: responses to COVID-19 in the migration and asylum area. https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/default/files/00_eu_30_emn_bulletin_annex_covid_19.pdf
[693] AIDA Cyprus. (2021). Country Report: Cyprus - 2020 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Cyprus Refugee Council. https://asylumineurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/AIDA-CY_2020update.pdf
[694] Danish Refugee Council. (2021). Input to the EASO Asylum Report 2021. https://easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/DRC-Danish-Refugee-Council.pdf
[695] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. (2020). Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns - Quarterly Bulletin 4 - 2020. https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2020-migration-bulletin-4_en.pdf. See also: La Cimade, Forum réfugiés - Cosi, France Terre d'Asile, Solidarité Mayotte, & ASSFAM-groupe SOS Solidarités. (September 2020). Centres et locaux de rétention administrative 2019 Rapport [Administrative detention centres and premises 2019 Report]. https://www.lacimade.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/La_Cimade_Rapport_Retention_2019-1.pdf  
[696]Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights | Coalizione Italiana Libertà e i Diritti civili. (2020). Detenzione migrante ai tempi del Covid. https://cild.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Dossier_MigrantiCovid.pdf
[697] Association for Legal Intervention | Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej (2020, March 25). SIP calls on the Border Police to release migrants from detention. Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej. https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/sip-calls-on-the-border-police-to-release-migrants-from-detention/
[698] Conseil National des Barreaux. (2021). Input to the EASO Asylum Report 2021. https://easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Conseil-National-Barreaux.pdf
[699] Human Rights League | Liga za ľudské práva. (2021). Input to the EASO Asylum Report 2021. https://easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/HumanRights-League.pdf
[700] AsyLex Legal Advisory. (2021). Input to the EASO Asylum Report 2021. https://easo.europa.eu/sites/default/files/AsyLex.docx

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