Migrants coming to Poland may be incarcerated even if they have not committed any crime. In situations specified under legal regulations they can be placed in detention centers for migrants, i.e. in detention.
Migrants placed in detention centers are deprived of their liberty and have limited contact with the outside world. The maximum standard duration of the visit of the family members is 90 minutes. Migrants may not own or use mobile phones with video or audio recording. In practice, the majority of mobile phones are being recaptured. Access to the Internet, and thus often contact with the family, is also restricted. Newcomers are not allowed to use their electronic devices. In such detention centers, they have to adapt to existing schedules. At the appointed time, meals are served and the presence is inspected in the morning (counting).
Before being admitted, as well as many times during their stay in the detention center, migrants, including children, are subjected to a personal search. They have to take off their clothes, and then their personal belongings and body are inspected for possession of prohibited goods. More about the conditions and regime in the centers can be found in our reports on the monitoring of the centers conducted in 2012 and 2014.
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What is detention? →
Location of detention centers →
Who could be placed in detention? →
Reasons for detention →
Duration of detention →
Procedure of placing an individual in detention →
Who should not be detained? →
Detention of children →
Legal framework →
Alternatives to detention (ATD) are measures imposed on migrants which, as a rule, are less repressive than detention and still allow the migration authorities to retain control over them. According to both Polish law and European standards, alternative measures have priority over detention, which means that each time an immigrant is considered for placement in a detention center, it should be justified why in a given case less repressive alternatives would not be sufficient.
According to the Polish law, the alternatives to detention are:
- reporting to a designated authority (Border Guard),
- payment of cash collateral in a specified amount
- obligation to reside in a designated place
- placing the travel document or other identity document in deposit
As part of the “Hostages of the System” campaign, we present the stories of people who spent time in detention centers for foreigners in Poland. Using online communication tools, we would like to start a public discussion about detention and alternative measures to detention. In our opinion, the right to detain foreigners is too often abused.
Those touching accounts were penned down by Magdalena Olszewska, a writer and journalist. Stories were illustrated by Daniel Chmielewski.
Some names and details are changed. Our clients wish to remain anonymous.