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16 April 2020 – Slovakia

Medved'ov Detention Centre Building, (David Ištok,,
Medved'ov Detention Centre Building, (David Ištok,,

Immigration detention in Slovakia has become an increasingly punitive measure, especially since the refugee crisis of 2015. Detention centres resemble prisons, with barred windows and uniformed policemen carrying truncheons. In cases of age disputes, unaccompanied children are considered adults during the assessment and are at risk of being detained alongside adults until bone tests prove otherwise. Families with children are frequently detained, sometimes for several months. Detainees must cover the costs of their detention, including food and transport. And non-custodial “alternatives” to detention may only be granted if the individual has accommodation and sufficient financial measures, which results in alternatives rarely being afforded.

The Covid-19 pandemic has thus appeared to have had little impact on these measures, even as the country has started recording Covid-19 cases in prisons. The first case was confirmed on 23 March 2020 in Bratislava, when an inmate was taken to the prison hospital in Trencin. Doctors subsequently requested that measures be taken immediately to avoid the spread of the virus in detention centres.

The Slovak Government declared a state of emergency on 12 March and imposed a nationwide quarantine from 16 March. The government also implemented measures covering non-citizens and migrant communities including the adoption of an amendment to the Act on Residence of Aliens on 7 April 2020, which extends residence permits for two months after the revocation of the emergency situation. Those without granted residence are also now entitled to remain in Slovakia until one month after the revocation of the emergency situation. NGOs and international organisations have been providing information to migrants and refugees about the pandemic and about the new social distancing and quarantine rules. IOM in Slovakia has prepared information related to Covid-19 for migrants in English and Russian and NGOs such as Mareena and the Human Rights League are providing information and resources through their websites and social media pages.