We demand compensation for the unlawful stay of an Iraqi citizen after experiencing violence in a guarded center for foreigners. We submit an application to the District Court in Zielona Góra.

An Iraqi citizen was fleeing his country because of the violence he experienced. He reached Poland through the Polish-Belarusian border and was granted refugee status. However, before that happened, he stayed in guarded centers for foreigners for 185 days!

The stay in the guarded center for foreigners, especially in the temporary center in Wędrzyn, which was established ad hoc on the territory of the military training ground, was very traumatic for him. The resort was overcrowded with no privacy whatsoever – our client had to share a room with 12 other people. He was not provided with adequate medical and psychological help there. A foreigner could stay outside to a very limited extent due to repeated quarantines related to the COVID-19 epidemic. The resort lacked proper infrastructure, including a constant supply of hot water, and the rooms were rarely cleaned. Access to the computer was also difficult (there were only 5 computers for about 100 foreigners in the centre), which was the only way for the man to contact the outside world, including his lawyer.

In addition to inadequate living conditions, our client experienced direct violence from the Border Guard officers during the protest of foreigners that broke out in the center in Wędrzyn. Protesters were beaten on the shoulders and backs and even used tear gas to force them back to their rooms. Foreigners, including our client, were also forced to go outside the resort building in the middle of the night without appropriate clothes to search their rooms. In addition, the fact that the center was located within the training ground and the foreigner often heard gunshots deepened his trauma, as he had fled a country where the use of weapons is associated with widespread violence against civilians.

The difficulties our client experienced were also related to the fact that he is an adult young man who spent 6 months of his life in detention. Being placed in the center deprived him of any opportunity to work, learn the language or engage in other activities. All this aggravated his mental problems and resulted in an increase in sense of futility and loss of motivation.

In the application, we indicated that the foreigner should not be sent to a guarded center in the first place, let alone stay there for 6 months. During the entire stay in detention, neither the court nor the Border Guard officers once attempted to verify whether the man had a negative condition that would prevent him from being placed in a guarded centre. Our client, as a person with the experience of violence, experienced a deepening of the trauma caused by his experiences in his country of origin due to this omission.

Pursuant to the applicable regulations, it is forbidden to place in guarded centers persons whose psychophysical condition justifies that they have previously experienced violence. In the case of a foreigner, both the courts and the Border Guard refrained from any diagnosis of his mental health, despite the fact that he talked about his traumatic experiences during the submission of the application for international protection and during the status interview.

We hope that the District Court in Zielona Góra will agree with our arguments and will grant the foreigner appropriate compensation.

The foreigner is represented by Advocate Małgorzata Jaźwińska and trainee attorney-in-law Magdalena Fuchs.