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Minister: Detention centres for migrants must improve

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Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – The conditions in the Czech detention centres for migrants must markedly improve as these facilities are even worse than prisons in some aspects, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (for ANO) told public Czech Television (CT) Sunday.

“The migrants do not stay in the facilities as punishment. They only committed an offence according to our law,” Pelikan said.

Despite this, the migrants don’t know for how long they would stay in the facilities, unlike prisoners, he said. “This has horrible psychological effects (on the migrants),” Pelikan said.

He pointed out that the asylum laws and reality are not in accordance.

In reaction, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) warned against downplaying the problems with the migrants.

“Many of them don’t tell us their personal data and they don’t cooperate with the authorities. We don’t know whether they are a threat to the society,” Chovanec told CTK.

He said the Czech authorities have been respecting law. “I think that our country and its citizens have their rights as well,” he added.

According to law, the migrants should be detained only to undergo the necessary procedures, Pelikan said.

“In reality, however, I can see camps, in which these people are kept for many weeks. I expect this to lead to court disputes and I myself am eager to see how the disputes will end,” he said.

Even if several hundred of migrants filed complaints against their stays in the detention centres, it would not overburden Czech courts as such a number can be dealt with, Pelikan said.

Moreover, these cases would be of the same kind and the solution to one case would be an example for all the others, he added.

Chovanec said the migrants would file a lot of complaints after hearing such statements from the justice minister.

According to the foreigner police, 123 of over 2400 refugees who ended up in Czech detention centres from January to August have filed complaints. Czech courts have sided with 36 of them so far, CT said.

CT reported that the Czech Bar Association started organising legal aid to the migrants. About 20 lawyers are ready to offer their services to them, CT said.

Pelikan was the only member of the Czech government who did not share the negative stance on the mandatory quotas for the redistribution of refugees across Europe.

The Czech Republic was one of few countries that opposed the quotas, but were outvoted.

Pelikan told CT that the Czech Republic might offer the refugees on its territory to apply for asylum here, instead of bringing in refugees from Italy in a complicated way.

The Czech Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) has put the EU Court of Justice a preliminary question that is to make it clear whether the detention of migrants where Czech law does not define objective criteria of “a serious danger of escape” is lawful.

This concerns the foreigners who are to be relocated to another EU state to assess their asylum application. The relocation is based on Dublin directives.

According to the NSS, the present Czech police practice in detaining foreigners has been predictable, it was based on the relevant law and it showed no signs of willfulness. But a Czech regional court recently decided that the Dublin directives require that individual EU countries legally define the objective criteria that would enable to assess a serious danger of escape in particular cases. Otherwise, foreigners must not be detained.

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