Prague, April 11 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will release illegal migrants from detention centres if their readmission by other EU countries is not agreed on, the cabinet decided yesterday, supporting a proposal submitted by the Government Council for Human Rights.
The living conditions in the detention centres for illegal migrants must respect human dignity and the detained refugees should be offered legal aid so that they may defend themselves against possible expulsion from the country, the cabinet decided.
The Interior Ministry should thus guarantee that lawyers regularly visit the detention facilities. Currently, legal aid is provided mostly by volunteers.
However, the cabinet did not accept the ten rules for dealing with refugee children that the Council proposed.
In late 2015, Czech Ombudsman Anna Sabatova criticised the conditions in the detention centres. She said refugee children lived in worse conditions than Czech prisoners.
The Council submitted its recommendations to the government last autumn when the detention facilities for illegal foreigners were overcrowded and nongovernmental groups criticised the living conditions in them.
Only 88 migrants are now staying in three Czech detention centres that can house up to 1030 people. Refugees may ask for asylum in the first EU member state they enter. The Czech Republic seeks to return the detained refugees to the EU country from which they came.
The Council demanded that the detained refugees, whose readmission to other EU countries is not agreed on, be released. From July to October 2015, Czech authorities managed to return merely 19 out of 1004 migrants to Hungary.
After the set deadline expired, the Czech authorities released the foreigners from the detention facilities with orders to leave the country anyway. After their release, the foreigners were in the same situation as they had been before, except that they had to pay a fee for their stay in the detention centre, the Council argued.
It is against the European Convention on Human Rights to limit people’s freedom, unless other countries are ready to accept them based on a readmission agreement, the Council said.
The Interior Ministry said late last year the conditions in the detention centres improved, the refugees had enough food and clothes and their other needs were met as well. The ministry said migrants should have access to free legal aid only if they faced court proceedings.
The Council demanded that refugee children should have special treatment – they should receive clear information about their situation, be allowed to play and attend school, have access to aid from psychologists and social workers, and be reunited with their relatives staying elsewhere in the EU as soon as possible.
The government did not approve these rules yesterday.
The Interior Ministry dismissed the view that children were arrested in detention centres for migrants. It said the children only accompanied the adults staying there.