Romania’s National Preventive Mechanism, the People’s Advocate, requested information from the Interior Ministry’s General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI) to provide answers to the Global Detention Projet’s Covid-19 survey. Based on information it received from the IGI, the People’s Advocate reported that during the state of emergency, the right of persons to request international protection was not restricted. However, in order to ensure the protection of their staff, IGI suspended the receipt of applications for granting or extending the right of residence, and moved the process to an online application platform. The processing of these applications was not suspended, but a number of additional protection measures were established including obligation to use masks for all people present (IGI staff, applicant, lawyer, and interpreter); conducting interviews through video-conference systems; and the communication of documents by fax and email.
Moreover, People’s Advocate indicated that in Romania, applicants for international protection held in accommodation centres are not deprived of their liberty as the centres have an open regime and the spaces provide for collective accommodation of asylum seekers. As regards the confinement of non-citizens in public custody centres, there were no releases. Certain transfers and returns were conducted, but only after the fulfillment of the conditions imposed by the readmission agreements concluded between Romania and the countries of origin or transit. The People’s Advocate also confirmed that no migrants or asylum seekers were released.
In terms of protective measures in the centres, the Advocate stated that in the centres managed by IGI, a series of prophylactic measures were adopted to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but that no generalised Covid-19 tests were done. In cases of suspicion of infection, individuals were immediately referred to the Local Public Health Directorate. The People’s Advocate mentioned that as of mid-July, there had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among asylum seekers or non-citizens in public custody.
Returns were only possible when readmission agreements could be implemented or when charter flights were organised by interested third countries, for the repatriation of their own nationals. The measures implemented by IGI to prevent the spread of the disease have been taken in strict accordance with the provisions issued at national level in this regard, and no new policies have been adopted.
- People’s Advocate Institution of Romania, Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, 16 July 2020.
- Global Detention Project, Immigration Detention in Romania, November 2019, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/europe/romania
- Migrants and Refugees in the Courtyard of Timisoara ETC, (UNHCR, “Refugees Respect Health Rules to Transit Safely Through Crisis,” 5 May 2020, https://www.unhcr.org/ceu/12289-refugees-respect-health-rules-to-transit-safely-through-crisis.html)