Quick Facts

Detention sites (including asylum facilities): 5 (2009)

Est. detention capacity: 350 (at the two migrant detention centres) (2009)

Removals/deportations: 2,462 (2007)

Asylum seekers: 909 (end of 2008)

Est. undocumented pop.: 15,000-20,000 (2007)

Max. length of detention: 180 days



Last updated: July 2009

Slovakia Detention Profile


Detention Policy

Detention infrastructure

Facts and figures



Slovakia's migration-related detention practices have been heavily influenced by the country’s integration into the European Union (EU), which resulted in Slovakia becoming a key external border country of the union (Caritas 2007). Increasing importance has been placed on strengthening borders, combatting migrant smuggling, and limiting use of the country as a migrant transit route into Europe (Divinsky 2008). According to some observers, however, this focus on migration issues has not resulted in increased public scrutiny of detention practices, including the conditions inside detention centres and the treatment of detainees (Divinsky 2008).



Detention policy. The 2002 Act on Stay of Aliens (ASA) and the 2002 Act on Asylum (AA) provide the legal basis for detaining undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.


Under Section 62 of the Act on Stay of Aliens, a police officer may detain a non-citizen for the purpose of executing an expulsion order or facilitating his/her removal in the case of illegal entry or stay in Slovakia (ASA 2002; Caritas 2007). Detainees held for more than six hours are to be sent to one of Slovakia’s secure, dedicated detention centres. The police are required to explain to the detainee the reasons for his/her detention in a language the person understands, and state the possibility of challenging the legality of the detention. The maximum length of detention is 180 days (ASA 2002, S. 63, 63a).


When placing an individual into a detention facility, the authorities must take into consideration his/her age, health condition, family relations, as well as their religious beliefs, ethnic background, and nationality. Minors must be held separately from adults, although exceptions can be made for families (ASA, S. 67 2002). All detainees have the right to health care either at the detention facility or, if their condition cannot be treated in situ, at an outside medical establishment (ASA, S. 68).


The 2002 Act on Asylum establishes asylum procedures. When a person expresses his/her intent to apply for asylum, he or she is placed in a secure reception centre, where the person must undergo a medical examination. During this process, applicants are kept in quarantine for up to 30 days and are not permitted to leave the centre (Vselkova 2007). Under Section 22 of the act, an “applicant after end of stay in a reception camp shall be placed in the accommodation camp or shall be permitted to reside outside the accommodation camp” (AA, S. 22 2002). An asylum applicant can be granted a permit by the Ministry of the Interior to leave an accommodation camp for more than 24 hours and, after being interviewed, for a maximum of 7 days (AA, S. 23a 2002).  


The Act on Asylum sets out the basic standards to be provided for asylum seekers in the centres, including with regards to food provisions, sanitary requirements, and health care. Asylum seekers cannot be deported during the asylum procedure. However, if their application for asylum is rejected they must leave the country within 15 days and are no longer entitled to benefits (AA 2002; Vselkova 2007).



Detention infrastructure. Slovakia has three types of facilities that are classified as detention sites by the Global Detention Project: administrative detention centres for migrants, asylum seeker accommodation centres, and reception centres. 


Slovakia’s two administrative migrant detention centres (Útvary policajného zaistenia pre cudzincov, literally “Custody services for foreigners”) are located in Medved’ov, in southern Slovakia near the Hungarian border; and in Sečovce, close to the Ukrainian border to the east. Both facilities are under the authority of the Ministry of Interior and are operated by the Bureau of Border and Aliens Police (Ministry of Interior 2009; Caritas 2007). The centres are used to detain illegally staying third-country nationals and asylum seekers who apply for asylum after being placed in detention (BBAP 2007). The Medved’ov centre has a capacity of 152 detainees—112 men and 40 women—and the Sečovce centre can hold up to 200 (Committee Against Torture 2009; BBAP 2007; Caritas 2007). During 2007, a total of 1,110 detainees were held at the two detention centres, roughly the same as in 2005 (1,137), and a 20 percent increase over 2006 (884) (BBAP 2007).


Slovakia has three facilties used to confine asylum seekers awaiting assessments on their cases, which are termed registration centres by the Global Detention Project. Upon entering the country and making an asylum claim, asylum seekers are placed in the “reception centre” in Humenné, which the GDP codes a mixed-regime facility. Applicants are held under quarantine and are not allowed to leave the centre while they undergo a medical examination, which is a secure detention situation. Once they have cleared the exam and are deemed to have satisfactory health, they can apply to leave the centre for 24-hour periods of time, which the GDP codes as semi-secure confinement because it does not amount to complete deprivation of liberty. The reception centre is meant as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers for a maximum of 30 days, after which they must be transferred to one of the country’s two accommodation centres (Guličová 2008).


Slovakia’s two accommodation centres (sometimes called “residence centres”), located in Rohovce and Opatovská Nová Ves, house asylum seekers in a semi-secure environment. Both were formerly used as reception centres and were converted to accommodation centres in 2007 (Šnírerová 2009b). While asylum seekers are required to stay in the centres until a final decision is made on their application, they can be granted permission to leave for a maximum of 7 days. By law, the Migration Office is required to make a decision on all applications within 90 days. If asylum is granted, individuals can continue to stay in the accommodation centres for a period of time (Guličová 2008).


The asylum accommodation infrastructure has changed significantly during the past several years, mainly due to the large decrease in the number of asylum applicants, particularly since 2004 (Šnírerová 2009b; Interior Ministry 2009). The reception centres in Adamov-Gbely and Vlachy closed in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, the accommodation centre in Brezová pod Bradlom was also shuttered. As of January 2009, the Gabčíkovo accommodation centre stopped receiving asylum seekers and now only accepts persons granted subsidiary protection by the state (Šnírerová 2009b; Guličová 2008).


Slovakia uses an orphanage to house unaccompanied minors. The Horené Orechové orphanage for unaccompanied minors, which was described as an “open” facility in a 2007 European Parliament study, operates under the authority of the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs, and the Family (European Parliament 2007).


Conditions at accommodation centres and administrative detention facilities have been criticized by rights advocates. According to the Slovak Humanitarian Council, a non-governmental group, asylum seekers with mental illnesses receive no special attention or treatment and are accommodated in the same centres as healthy asylum seekers. As a rule, vulnerable asylum seekers are housed in single rooms, but only if the capacity of the centre allows it. Otherwise, they must share a room. There are also no special rehabilitation services for minors who have been victims of “abuse, neglect, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or minors who have suffered from armed conflict” (Vselkova 2007).


According to a 2007 European Parliament study, immigration detainees suffer from a number of psychological disorders primarily linked to their imprisonment. These issues are often not dealt with appropriately because of insufficient psychological care (European Parliament 2007).


Other criticisms have been directed at the lack of organised activities at the detention and accommodation centres (e.g. education, social activities and games). This has led to tension, and in some cases violence among detainees and asylum seekers (ECRI 2009; UNHCR 2007).


At the Sečovce detention centre, there have been complaints about the lack of transparency in the confiscation of property and money of detainees. Detainees reportedly do not receive a certificate of their seized property (ECRI 2009; UNHCR 2007). Detainees at the Medved’ov centre have complained about excessive sanctions for breaking the facility's rules, including in some cases prolonged isolation (UNHCR 2007).



Facts and figures. Since its accession to the European Union in 2004 the number of asylum applicants in Slovakia has decreased significantly. In 2004 there were 11,395 applications, compared to 909 in 2008 (Interior Ministry 2009; UNHCR 2009). The main countries of origin include Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Pakistan, and India (UNHCR 2009). According to the UNHCR, as of January 2009 there were 307 asylum seekers and 911 stateless persons residing in Slovakia (UNHCR website). The Bureau of Border and Aliens Police reports that in 2006 there were 2,849 asylum applicants. Of these, only eight were granted refugee status; 861 were rejected; and nearly 2,000 terminated the procedure (BBAP 2007).


According to the EU-funded Clandestino Project, the estimated number of irregular migrants in Slovakia as of 2007 was 15,000-20,000 (Divinsky 2008). Since 2000, the number of undocumented migrants annually deported from Slovakia has remained largely stable, at 2,500-3,000. The most common countries of origin of deported migrants are Ukraine, Russia, India, China, Georgia, Pakistan, Serbia, Vietnam, and Turkey (Divinsky 2008).


During 2004-2007, the Bureau of Border and Aliens Police recorded that the flow of irregular migrants into Slovakia decreased by 38 percent (Divinsky 2008). According to the Interior Ministry, this trend has continued since the country joined the passport-free Schengen Zone in 2007, with the number of undocumented migrants caught at the Austrian-Slovak border, for example, dropping by 97 percent (EU Business 2008). The police claim that the number of undocumented migrants apprehended at the Ukrainian-Slovak border has also decreased steadily during this period (Slovak Spectator 2008).