Czech Republic

Detains migrants or asylum seekers?

Yes

Has laws regulating migration-related detention?

Yes

Refugees

351,338

2023

Asylum Applications

1,046

2023

International Migrants

540,921

2020

Population

10,500,000

2023

Overview

(June 2023) The Czech Republic (Czechia) has taken a strong exclusionary approach to non-European migrants, engaging in systematic pushbacks and detention. The country has been criticised for its practice of detaining families with children, infrequently using non-custodial “alternatives to detention,” and forcing detainees to pay for their own detention. At the same time however, the country has been a leader in welcoming European arrivals–hosting the largest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

10 November 2022 – Czech Republic

Sharp increases in the numbers of unauthorised border crossings from Slovakia into neighboring Czechia have led to tensions between the two countries. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger planned to meet with his Czech counterpart in Prague on 10 November to discuss Czechia’s introduction of border controls, which Slovakia claims may undermine Schengen freedom of movement […]

Read More…

InfoMigrants, “Border checks by Czech Republic and Austria, over 100 migrants intercepted,” 29 September 2022, http://www.infomigrants.net/en/post/43683/border-checks-by-czech-republic-and-austria-over-100-migrants-intercepted

21 July 2020 – Czech Republic

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman) of the Czech Republic reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established and that no such measure was under consideration. However, the Czech Ombudsman said that despite this, it seems that authorities have minimised the numbers of […]

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Outside View of a Part of the Bela-Jezova Detention Centre for Refugees, (Press TV,

04 June 2020 – Czech Republic

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 […]

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Belá-Jezová Detention Centre (Photo credit: Refugee Facilities Administration, http://www.suz.cz/co-delame/provoz-zarizeni/zzc-bela-jezova/)
Last updated: December 2018

DETENTION STATISTICS

Total Migration Detainees (Entries + Remaining from previous year)
648
2017
606
2016
2,564
2015
1,761
2015
404
2014
229
2014
183
2013
770
2013
352
2013
250
2013
366
2012
202
2012
320
2012
334
2011
370
2011
822
2010
1,177
2009
Immigration Detainees as Percentage of Total Migrant population (Year)
0.08
2013
0.21
2010

DETAINEE DATA

Countries of Origin (Year)
Ukraine (Moldova) Vietnam Nigeria Afghanistan
2017
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
250
2017
364
2016
22
2013
11
2012
7
2011
40
2010
Number of Unaccompanied Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
0
2012
0
2011
3
2010
Number of Accompanied Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
22
2013
11
2012
7
2011
37
2010

DETENTION CAPACITY

Immigration Detention Capacity (Specialised Immigration Facilities Only)
488
2017
273
2014
Number of Dedicated Immigration Detention Centres
3
2018
1
2014

ALTERNATIVES TO DETENTION

Number of Detainees Referred to ATDs (Year)
19
2015
44
2014
57
2013
70
2012
65
2011

ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT DATA

Number of Deportations/Forced Removals (Year)
225
2018
265
2017
265
2016
0
2015
0
2014
Number of Voluntary Returns & Deportations (Year)
820
2018
805
2017
530
2016
1,715
2015
320
2014
330
2013
430
2012
Percentage of Removals v. Total Removal Orders (Year)
131
2017
13
2014
Number of Apprehensions of Non-Citizens (Year)
4,505
2018
4,360
2017
4,885
2016
8,165
2015
4,430
2014
3,695
2013
3,315
2012

PRISON DATA

Criminal Prison Population (Year)
21,623
2019
22,830
2017
17,491
2014
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
8.3
2019
8
2017
8.8
2014
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
203
2019
216
2017
166
2014

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
10,500,000
2023
10,700,000
2020
10,543,000
2015
10,600,000
2012
International Migrants (Year)
540,921
2020
512,705
2019
433,300
2017
405,100
2015
432,800
2013
398
2010
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
5.05
2020
4.1
2017
3.8
2015
4
2013
Estimated Undocumented Population (Year)
100,000 (195000)
2005
Refugees (Year)
351,338
2023
435,212
2022
1,909
2021
1,919
2020
2,054
2019
2,186
2018
3,640
2017
3,580
2016
3,644
2015
3,184
2014
Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
0.35
2016
0.3
2014
0.27
2012
Asylum Applications (Year)
1,046
2023
986
2022
2,809
2019
1,385
2016
914
2014
753
2012
Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
12.1
2014
Stateless Persons (Year)
1,577
2023
1,557
2022
1,502
2016
1,502
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
19,529
2014
18,861
2013
Remittances to the Country (in USD)
2,537
2014
2,206
2011
Remittances From the Country (in USD)
2,307
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
220
2012
250
2011
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
28 (Very high)
2015
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
75
2007

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Does the Country Detain People for Migration, Asylum, or Citizenship Reasons?
Yes
2023
Does the Country Have Specific Laws that Provide for Migration-Related Detention?
Yes
2023
Detention-Related Legislation
Act No. 325/1999 Coll. of 11 November 1999 on Asylum (1999) 2017
1999
Act No. 326/1999 Coll. of 30 November 1999 on the Residence of Foreign Nationals (Foreign Nationals Act) (1999) 2018
1999
Do Migration Detainees Have Constitutional Guarantees?
Yes (Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms, article 8) 1992
1992 2018
Bilateral/Multilateral Readmission Agreements
Germany (1995)
2017
Austria (2005)
2017
Bulgaria (1998)
2017
Bulgaria (2005)
2017
Croatia (2004)
2017
Hungary (1995)
2017
Italy (1999)
2017
Norway (1993)
2017
Poland (1993)
2017
Romania (1994)
2017
Slovakia (2004)
2017
Slovenia (2004)
2017
Switzerland (2011)
2017
Armenia (2011)
2017
Kosovo (2011)
2017
Moldova (2004)
2017
Moldova (2012)
2017
Montenegro (2012)
2017
Russian Federation (2012)
2017
Ukraine (2015)
2017
Canada (1996)
2017
Viet Nam (2008)
2017
Legal Tradition(s)
Civil law
2018
Federal or Centralised Governing System
Centralized system
2016
Centralised or Decentralised Immigration Authority
Centralized immigration authority
2017

GROUNDS FOR DETENTION

Immigration-Status-Related Grounds
Detention for failing to respect non-custodial measures
2018
Detention for failing to respect a voluntary removal order
2018
Detention to effect removal
2018
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
2018
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
2018
Detention pending transfer to another Schengen country
2018
Detention during the asylum process
2018
Detention to ensure transfer under the Dublin Regulation
2018
Detention to prevent unauthorised entry at the border
2018
Non-Immigration-Status-Related Grounds in Immigration Legislation
Detention on public order, threats or security grounds
2018
Criminal Penalties for Immigration-Related Violations
Yes (No)
2016
Children & Other Vulnerable Groups
Accompanied minors (Prohibited) Yes
2016
Unaccompanied minors (Prohibited) Not available
2016
Asylum seekers (Provided) Not available
2016
Mandatory Detention
No (No)
2018

LENGTH OF DETENTION

Maximum Length of Administrative Immigration Detention
Number of Days: 545
2018
Average Length of Immigration Detention
Number of Days: 80
2014
Number of Days: 51
2013
Number of Days: 77
2012
Number of Days: 83
2011
Number of Days: 79
2010
Number of Days: 60
2009
Maximum Length of Detention of Asylum-Seekers
Number of Days: 120
2018

DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
Refugee Facilities Administration (Ministry of the Interior) Interior or Home Affairs
2017
Administration of Refugee Facilities (Ministry of the Interior) Interior or Home Affairs
2007
Police (Ministry of Interior)
2006
Administration of Refugee Facilities (Ministry of the Interior) Interior or Home Affairs
2005
Detention Facility Management
Interior Ministry's Refugee Facilities Administration (Governmental)
2017
Police (Governmental)
2014
Refugee Facility Administration of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic (Governmental)
2009
Ministry of Education (Governmental)
2007
Administration of Refugee Facilities (Governmental)
2005
Formally Designated Detention Estate?
Yes (Dedicated immigration detention facilities)
2018
Types of Detention Facilities Used in Practice
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)
National penitentiary (Criminal)
2014

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

Procedural Standards
Information to detainees Unknown
2018
Access to free interpretation services infrequently
2018
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detention (Yes)
2018
Complaints mechanism regarding detention conditions (Yes)
2018
Information to detainees (Yes)
2018
Right to legal counsel (Yes)
2018
Types of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) Provided in Law
Designated non-secure housing (No) Yes
2020
Release on bail (Yes) No
2014
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes) Yes
2014
Designated non-secure housing (No) No
2014
Registration (deposit of documents) (No) No
2014
Electronic monitoring (No) No
2014

COSTS & OUTSOURCING

Types of Privatisation/Outsourcing
Detention facility security
2018
Detention Contractors and Other Non-State Entities
Unnamed private security company (For profit) Yes
2018

COVID-19 DATA

TRANSPARENCY

MONITORING

Types of Authorised Detention Monitoring Institutions
Organization for Aid to Refugees (Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO))
2018
Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman) (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2017
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (International or Regional Bodies (IRBs))
2014

NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING BODIES

NATIONAL PREVENTIVE MECHANISMS (OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE)

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs)

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that Carry Out Detention Monitoring Visits
Yes
2018

GOVERNMENTAL MONITORING BODIES

INTERNATIONAL DETENTION MONITORING

International Monitoring Bodies that Carry Out Detention Monitoring Visits
2014

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES & TREATY BODIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance
2017
2017
OP CRC Communications Procedure
2015
2015
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2014
2014
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
2013
2013
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2009
2009
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2006
2006
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
2004
2004
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1993
1993
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1993
1993
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
1993
1993
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1993
1993
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
1993
1993
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1993
1993
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1993
1993
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1993
1993
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1993
1993
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 16/19
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
CRC, [Third] Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child establishing a communications procedure, 2011 2015
2015
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2001
2001
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention 2000
2000
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 1996
1996
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1993
1993
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
5/7
5/7
Relevant Recommendations or Observations Issued by Treaty Bodies
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Human Rights Committee §17: The State party should: (a) Reduce the maximum legal period of detention for foreign minors awaiting deportation and, in any event, ensure that detention of children is permitted only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period; (b) Take measures to ensure that the detention of foreigners is always reasonable, necessary and proportionate in light of the ir individual circumstances, that detention is resorted to for the shortest appropriate period and only if the existing alternatives to administrative detention have been duly considered and deemed not appropriate; (c) Ensure that the holding of asylum-seekers in reception centres is applied only as a measure of last resort for the shortest appropriate period , after due consideration of less invasive means; (d) Ensure that the physical conditions in all immigration detention and reception centres are in conformity with international standards. 2013
2013
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination § 20: The Committee calls on the State party to include in the next periodic report information [...] on the situation of foreigners in detention centres. 2011
2011
Committee against Torture § 17: The Committee recommends that the State party implement alternatives to detention of asylum seekers, including unconditional release, in particular of families with children and asylum seeking adults who are responsible for children; that asylum seekers enjoy freedom of movement in closed reception centres, with adequate reception conditions; that the State party review the duration of restrictions on freedom of movement of asylum seekers in closed reception centres and that it review the regime and material conditions in centres for foreign nationals awaiting deportation in order to ensure that they are in conformity with the principle of non-refoulement set out in article 3 of the Convention and in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees 2012
2012
Committee on the Rights of the Child § 64: The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.201) to the State party to avoid any form of detention of asylum-seekers under 18 years of age. The Committee further recommends that the State party consider all possible alternatives, including unconditional release, prior to detention and emphasizes that this should not be limited to unaccompanied or separated minors, but extended to all cases involving children. 2011
2011
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women § 39: The Committee urges the State party to immediately cease the detention of asylum-seeking, refugee or irregular migrant women and their children and to implement less coercive alternative measures. 2016
2016
Committee against Torture §21: (a) End the practice of detaining persons in need of international protection, particularly children, and ensure the provision of alternative accommodation for families with children; (b) Continue its efforts to improve material conditions in reception centres and detention facilities, including with regard to provision of basic necessities, health- care services and educational and recreational opportunities for children; (c) Provide free legal assistance at all reception and detention centres, and facilitate access to those places by NGOs providing legal assistance; (d) Develop and implement a standard procedure for the identification and protection of persons in vulnerable situations, including victims of torture and ill-treatment; (e) Review the policy of obliging detained foreigners awaiting deportation to pay for their detention, with a view to abolishing it. 2018
2018
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination § 26: The Committee recommends that the State party duly consider alternative s to detention of asylum seekers and use detention as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period, avoid detention of asylum seekers under 18 years of age, ensure that the conditions of all immigration detention and reception centres are in conformity with international standards, and end the practice of issuing expulsion orders prior to registering asylum applications. 2015
2015
Committee on the Rights of the Child 44. Recalling joint general comments No. 3 and No. 4 of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families/No. 22 and No. 23 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2017) on the human rights of children in the context of international migration , the Committee urges the State party to: [...] (b) Ensure that, in asylum and immigration matters, all those under 18 years of age are treated as children, receive the requisite special protection and are not detained; (c) Develop a standard age-determination procedure that is multidisciplinary, scientifically based, respectful of children’ s rights, used only in cases of serious doubt about the claimed age and takes into consideration documentary or other forms of evidence available and ensure access to effective appeal mechanisms; (d) Harmonize legislation to prohibit the placing of children in immigration detention, which is never in their best interests, and ensure non-custodial solutions, including foster care, and prioritize the immediate transfer of asylum-seeking children and their families out of detention centres; [...] 2021
2021
Human Rights Committee 29. The State party should: (a) Ensure that detention is applied as a measure of last resort only and is justified as reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the light of the individual’ s circumstances; (b) Ensure effective implementation of alternatives to detention in practice; (c) Move to end the detention of all children, including detention of children with their families; (d) Revise relevant regulations to ensure that the benefit of the doubt in age assessment cases is afforded to young persons, in accordance with international standards. 2019
2019
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 22. Emphasizing that the detention of asylum seekers should be a measure of last resort and applied for as short a time as possible, the Committee recommends that the State party end the practice of detaining asylum seekers with their children, including persons who are subject to transfer under the Dublin III Regulation, and develop alternative non-custodial types of accommodation for asylum seekers, particularly for families with children. 2019
2019

> UN Special Procedures

Visits by Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
None
2018
Relevant Recommendations or Observations by UN Special Procedures
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
None
2018

> UN Universal Periodic Review

Relevant Recommendations or Observations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2008
2017
Yes 2012

> Global Compact for Migration (GCM)

GCM Resolution Endorsement
Observation Date
2018

> Global Compact on Refugees (GCR)

GCR Resolution Endorsement
Observation Date
2018

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Regional Legal Instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
Observation Date
CPCSE, Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse 2016
2016
2017
ECHR, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the European Convention on Human Rights 1992
1992
2017
ECHRP1, Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 1992
1992
2017
ECHRP7, Protocol 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 1992
1992
2017
ECPT, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment 1995
1995
2017
CATHB, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings 2017
2017
2017
Relevant Recommendations or Observations of Regional Human Rights Mechanisms
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

§30: Pursuant to Section 134, paragraph 3, of the Law on the Residence of Foreigners, outdoor exercise may be restricted or cancelled by the police on “serious grounds”. [...] the Committee recommends that the aforementioned legal restrictions be abolished.

§ 31: the imposition of the strict regime does not in itself entail a solitary confinement regime. In practice, however, it may well be the case that only one foreign national is placed in the strict regime unit at a time. [...] the CPT trusts that the Czech authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure that foreign nationals who are de facto held in a solitary-confinement-type regime are provided with appropriate human contact on a daily basis.

§ 32: the CPT considers that the accommodation of children accompanying their parent(s) together with other adults in a detention centre can have a negative psychological effect on the child’s development and well-being, particularly when the child is young. The placement of minors with their parents in a detention centre should only occur as a last resort, and if, in exceptional circumstances, such placement cannot be avoided, its duration should be as short as possible. Every possible effort should be made to avoid separation of children from their parent(s).

§33: the CPT recommends that the necessary measures be taken to ensure that unaccompanied/separated minors are always provided with special care and accommodated in an open (or semi-open) establishment specialised for juveniles (e.g. a social welfare/educational institution for juveniles); if necessary, the relevant legal framework should be amended accordingly. §34: the CPT recommends that the Czech authorities take steps to ensure that a staff member competent to provide first aid, preferably with a recognised nursing qualification, is always present in the Centre, including at night.

§36: The Committee recommends that measures be taken to provide professional interpretation when required during medical examinations.

§37: the delegation noted that almost no members of staff who were directly in contact with foreign nationals spoke any foreign language. Further, many members of staff – in particular those deployed by the private security company – had apparently received no specific training to work in a multi-ethnic environment. The CPT recommends that the Czech authorities take appropriate measures to remedy these deficiencies.

§38: Some private security staff usually carried pepper spray canisters inside the detention areas. According to the management, such devices had never been used in the Centre. The CPT recommends that the Czech authorities take the necessary steps to ensure that the above-mentioned precepts are effectively implemented in practice.

§41: It is regrettable that foreign nationals were usually allowed to receive visits only in semi open booths and were thus prevented from having any physical contact with the visitor(s). In the CPT’s view, visiting rooms should enable immigration detainees to meet under open conditions with family and friends visiting them, and the environment should be child-friendly (including a play area for children). If, exceptionally, it is considered necessary to impose restrictions on a particular foreign national, this should be done on the basis of an individual risk assessment. The Committee recommends that the necessary steps be taken in the light of the above remarks.

2014
2014
2014

HEALTH CARE PROVISION

HEALTH IMPACTS

COVID-19

Country Updates
Sharp increases in the numbers of unauthorised border crossings from Slovakia into neighboring Czechia have led to tensions between the two countries. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger planned to meet with his Czech counterpart in Prague on 10 November to discuss Czechia’s introduction of border controls, which Slovakia claims may undermine Schengen freedom of movement obligations. According to reports, some 12,000 people have already been detained by Czechia this year–12 times as many as in 2021. Since the summer, countries along the western Balkan migration route have reported a significant increase in the number of irregular border crossings. According to reports, the majority of migrants and refugees taking this route are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Turkey, with Frontex announcing that it has detected more than 105,000 crossings from the western Balkans into the EU so far this year. In Czechia, the Interior Ministry has referred to this as “transit migration,” asserting that the majority of migrants and refugees entering the country are aiming to reach Germany. Ukrainians entering the country, however, are not included in irregular migration data. Criticism of Czechia’s detention policies are longstanding, including its many and broad legal grounds for detaining non-citizens (for more, see our 2018 Country Report). The UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, for instance, recently expressed concerns that children are frequently detained in the country, and that the country fails to properly consider “alternatives to detention” before imposing detention measures. The Czech government’s decision to temporarily reintroduce border controls–which came into effect on 29 September–was initially set to last for ten days, and involved the deployment of several hundred army, police, and customs officers to border points. Controls have since been extended and according to the Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, they are set to be prolonged beyond 28 October. The reintroduction of border controls is regulated by the Schengen Border Code, which holds that it is to be applied as a last resort and only permitted in exceptional situations. In recent years, controls have been temporarily reintroduced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as to curb irregular migration. In order for Czechia to extend the current controls however, consent must be obtained at EU level–and authorities are thus preparing for negotiations. Czechia’s decision to impose controls has also set off a wave of similar measures in neighbouring EU states. Announcing that “we have to react before the smugglers react,”Austria has reintroduced checks at its 91 km border with Slovakia, and the EU has also announced that it will deploy Frontex officers to North Macedonia. In Slovakia, interceptions of undocumented migrants have risen. According to the country’s Ministry of the interior, several dozen smugglers were arrested and 1,615 undocumented migrants were intercepted between 29 September and 17 October.
Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Public Defender of Rights (Ombudsman) of the Czech Republic reported that no moratorium on new immigration detention orders had been established and that no such measure was under consideration. However, the Czech Ombudsman said that despite this, it seems that authorities have minimised the numbers of immigration detention decisions ordered during recent months, especially during the first weeks of the state emergency which had been declared on 12 March 2020 and ended on 17 May 2020. Between 12 March and 19 May, 8 persons were placed in immigration detention, of whom 5 were detained for the purpose of Dublin transfers. On 20-21 May, 25 non-citizens were detained and in the period of 22 May to 7 June, 12 more persons were detained. The Ombudsman office was unable to obtain information on detention orders issued after 7 June. Since 1 April, the Bělá-Jezová Detention Centre has been operating as a mixed facility, serving as a temporary mandatory quarantine facility for newly arriving asylum seekers and newly detained migrants, who are confined separately from the standard detainee population while in quarantine (see 4 June Czech Republic update on this platform). The “preventive quarantine” section’s staff consists solely of doctors and police officers. All new asylum seekers and newly detained migrants are automatically sent to this centre and they are obliged to abide with all quarantine measures. Following 14 days of quarantine, and if they do not test positive for Covid-19, they are sent to the respective facilities--regular reception centres for asylum seekers or migration detention for people in removal procedures. Under Czech Republic law, for a person to be legally detained, they must fall under one of the grounds provided by the Foreign Nationals Act 1999 (FNA), including, inter alia, section 124(1), whereby “police may detain a non-citizen who is over 15 years of age: 1) if they have been notified about the commencement of administrative expulsion proceedings; 2) if a final decision on administrative expulsion has been made; or 3) if a re-entry ban has been imposed by another EU member state. The same section subsequently lists the specific grounds justifying detention in the above circumstances. As indicated by the Ombudsman, following this determination, authorities conduct an assessment of whether non-custodial measures would be sufficient. These non-custodial measures (“alternatives to detention” or ATD) are: 1) the obligation to provide the address of one’s place of residence, to reside at that address and report any change of address to the police on the following working day; 2) the obligation to provide a security deposit; 3) the obligation to report in person at a police station within a time limit stipulated by the police on a regular basis; and/or 4) the obligation to stay at a designated place by the police and be present to undergo a residential control. Of the 25 non-citizens detained on 20-21 May, 23 were issued a detention order according to the above-mentioned reasoning, as they were deemed to not fulfil the conditions for an ATD measure to be imposed. All 23 non-citizens would have to undergo a quarantine because: 1) some of the non-citizens provided an address where they could stay, which was far from the place where the arrest took place. It would be dangerous to let the person travel there, as it may constitute a threat to public health; 2) the security deposit was not sufficient due to the lack of prospect of the foreigner leaving the territory, given that borders were closed and in general, countries imposed travel restrictions; 3) in light of the quarantine measures taken, it was not possible for a non-citizen to report in person to a police station; and 4) police could in theory appoint a specific place for a returnee to stay, but this specific place was dedicated to vulnerable persons and so the non-citizens in question did not fulfil this criterion. Police authorities thus concluded that ATD measures were not sufficient and issued a immigration detention orders. The Ombudsman office informed that they were not aware of any detainees released from immigration detention and that rather, they had been informed of several detention extension orders. In addition, the Public Defender of Rights said that they were unaware of any measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when migrants or asylum seekers are released from detention centres. Before 1 April, detainees were reportedly tested in the facilities where they were held. After that date and following the opening of the temporary quarantine facility at Bělá-Jezová, each person that is sent there is to undergo a Covid-19 test and an x-ray scan. Detainees are then tested again for Covid-19, 13 or 14 days following their arrival. If the second test is also negative, they are to be transferred almost immediately to another facility, depending on his or her legal status. The Ombudsman office said that as far as they were aware, staff and detainees in detention and reception centres were provided with personal protective equipment. In addition, in these centres, several restrictions were imposed on visits, legal services, group-based activities in the centres, dining rules in collective canteens and others. The temporary facility however has a different regime. A systematic visit under the NPM mandate was carried out in this facility, yet the report has not been made public so far and so the Office of the Public Defender of Rights has refrained from commenting on this issue for the time being. Moreover, the Ombudsman office stated that removals had been halted in practice. However, they have not received any formal notice of this from the government. With protective measures being lifted progressively, some removals to Slovakia have been carried out in recent weeks. The government of the Czech Republic took several measures regarding immigration. From 14 March, the government banned the entry of foreign nationals to the country but provided certain exceptions. There was, however, no limitation on lodging applications for asylum. In addition, the government announced a ban on the entry of all foreign nationals arriving from states which were considered as highly risky at the time. This did nonetheless not apply to foreign nationals with a temporary residence permit for more than 90 days, permanent residence permit, and foreign nationals, whose entry was in the interest of the Czech Republic. Embassies of the Czech Republic suspended the processing of applications for visas as well as temporary and permanent residence permits, with the exception of those whose entry was in the interest of the country. Following the end of the state of emergency on 17 May, the Ministry of Health has been regulating cross-border movement by its protective measures. Currently, EU Member States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland are divided into three groups - high, medium and low-risk states. Individuals coming from these states, would have had different measures applied upon them. The Ombudsman office said that Government Resolution No. 198 stipulated that foreign nationals who were lawfully temporarily or permanently present in the territory of the Czech Republic at the time of the declaration of the state of emergency were entitled to remain in the territory for the duration of the state of emergency. Also, foreign nationals whose visa or residence permit expired during this period are obliged to leave the territory within 60 days from the day when the state of emergency ended (i.e. 16 July 2020). No expulsion proceedings would be initiated against these foreign nationals and they would not be penalised for their stay in the territory during this period.
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”).
Did the country release immigration detainees as a result of the pandemic?
Yes
2020
Did the country use legal "alternatives to detention" as part of pandemic detention releases?
Unknown
2021
Did the country Temporarily Cease or Restrict Issuing Detention Orders?
No
2020
Did the Country Adopt These Pandemic-Related Measures for People in Immigration Detention?
Yes (Unknown) Yes Yes Unknown
2020
Did the Country Lock-Down Previously "Open" Reception Facilities, Shelters, Refugee Camps, or Other Forms of Accommodation for Migrant Workers or Other Non-Citizens?
Unknown
2021
Were cases of COVID-19 reported in immigration detention facilities or any other places used for immigration detention purposes?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Cease or Restrict Deportations/Removals During any Period After the Onset of the Pandemic?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Release People from Criminal Prisons During the Pandemic?
Unknown
2021
Did Officials Blame Migrants, Asylum Seekers, or Refugees for the Spread of COVID-19?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Restrict Access to Asylum Procedures?
Unknown
2021
Did the Country Commence a National Vaccination Campaign?
Yes
2021
Were Populations of Concern Included/Excluded From the National Vaccination Campaign?
Unknown (Unknown) Unknown Unknown Unknown
2021