Saturday, 16 December 2017

Ombudsman criticises conditions in refugee facility

ČTK |
14 October 2015

Brno, Oct 13 (CTK) - The Living conditions of refugees in the detention facility in Bela-Jezova, central Bohemia, are very bad and their children live there worse than Czech prisoners, Ombudsman Anna Sabatova told reporters yesterday.
Sabatova with her colleagues have found fundamental shortcomings during their inspection of this centre, and she has asked the management of the Refugee Facilities Administration and the foreigner police to redress the situation immediately.
The Interior Ministry, which operates the facilities, said standard conditions in all of them are being observed, and were even observed some time ago when the facilities were overcrowded.
At present, about 600 foreigners are accommodated in Czech refugee facilities.
The ministry considers the ombudsman's criticism as rightful to a certain extent only. It admits, nevertheless, that some things need to be improved, and some changes are even prepared in this respect, its spokeswoman Lucie Novakova told CTK.
Some 400 adults and 100 children are now placed in Bela-Jezova.
The parents are being humiliated in front of their children, they are transported handcuffed and kept behind a four-metre high fence, while they are not able to explain these conditions to their children, Sabatova said.
The refugees' children lack warm clothes and they often have only plastic sandals instead of solid shoes.
They are scared by security guards and policemen who are always present around them. They play police and prisoners, and another favourite play is "digging a tunnel" out of the facility, Sabatova added.
There is no playroom for children in the complex and the outdoor playground is small and inconvenient, she said.
She pointed out that the mattrasses in the facility were not washable and their state did not meet hygiene standards.
"Policemen, sometime in helmets or hoods, take the foreigners out of bed to count them every evening. If the children are sleeping, their parents must wake them and make them get up," the ombudsman's report on the conditions in Bela-Jezova says.
Sabatova also proposes a series of measures to improve the living conditions of the detained refugees.
"In prison, you have the right to a bed, a chair, a cabinet, warm meals and contacts with other people. If you are a woman, you have the right not to be accommodated with unknown men. Even the toughest prisoners in our country have free access to toilets and running water. The refugees staying in a gym did not have these conditions secured during our visit," deputy ombudsman Pavel Porizek told reporters.
Sabatova also said the mere public release of the information about the situation in Bela-Jezova was a sanction for its administrator and that she expected them to redress it without any unnecessary delay.
Sabatova wants to terminate the practice of accommodating refugees in a gym and portacabins in a forest and of unknown men, women and children sleeping together in one room.
Families with children should not be accommodated in Bela-Jezova at all under the current conditions, she said.
Uniformed police and security guards should protect the complex from outside, while only civilian staff should be inside, Sabatova said.
She also demands that "the demonstration of force by policemen in hoods, helmets and with dogs be terminated."
The social conditions of refugees must improve as soon as possible and warm clothes must be provided especially for children, she said.
Novakova said the Interior Ministry plans changes in and modernisation of the Bela-Jezova facility, which have been enabled by the recent opening of new refugee centres in Vysni Lhoty, north Moravia, and Drahonice, north Bohemia.
In Bela-Jezova, the staff is to be reinforced from 62 to 90 employees.
"We are intensively negotiating about the situation of families with children with the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry...Up to now, the situation of families with underage kids could not be solved due to capacity reasons," Novakova said.
Sabatova pointed out that under law she was obliged to check the living conditions of refugees in the facilities in the Czech Republic.
The employees of the Ombudsman's Office have visited the facility in Bela-Jezova three times since the autumn of 2014 and they plan another inspection soon.
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