According to information provided to the GDP by Hana Frankova (Organisation for Aid to Refugees), Czech authorities have continued to arrest non-nationals during the pandemic. After their arrest, non-nationals have been moved to Bělá Jezová Detention Centre, which has been temporarily converted into a quarantine reception centre. All new asylum seekers have also been required to quarantine at this facility – but they have been held separately to migrant detainees. Quarantine lasts for 14 days, and everyone held in the facility is tested for the virus. Prior to Bělá Jezová’s conversion into a quarantine facility, new detainees who were held at the Vyšní Lhoty and Balková detention centres were tested for the virus at the beginning and end of their quarantine period. In all three detention facilities, detainees have been provided with face masks and disinfectant.
While deportations were not officially halted by authorities, the closure of borders and suspension of international travel prevented both Dublin transfers and administrative expulsions. (However, according to one non-governmental source who contacted the GDP on the condition of anonymity, since mid-May authorities have sought to resume Dublin transfers to EU states to which direct flights are operating.) Those awaiting deportation have not been released. Instead, their detention has been prolonged—and these extensions have been conducted without the usual procedural steps taking place. The Organization for Aid to Refugees is, however, aware of at least one case in which a detainee’s detention was not prolonged and the individual was instead released.
Having ramped up its detention capacity in recent years, authorities have also been systematically detaining asylum seekers–despite repeated criticisms from human rights bodies, including the Committee against Torture (in 2018) and the Human Rights Committee (in 2013). During the crisis, however, authorities reportedly moved detained asylum seekers to open reception facilities (or “accommodation centres”).
- H. Frankova (Organisation for Aid to Refugees), Completion of GDP Covid-19 Survey and email exchange with the Global Detention Project, 2 June 2020, https://www.opu.cz/en/
- Anonymous, Completion of GDP Covid-19 Survey, 3 June 2020, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe16r5vVHGhg8AmhOBHG-LzW_wTKk_nlPNt3RiVfjZzapnBsQ/viewform
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in the Czech Republic – 2018 Update,” December 2018, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/czech-republic
- Belá-Jezová Detention Centre (Photo credit: Refugee Facilities Administration, http://www.suz.cz/co-delame/provoz-zarizeni/zzc-bela-jezova/)