Czech Ombudsman: The situation of children held in Bělá detention centre is serious

13. 10. 2015



Photographs from the Bělá-Jezová detention centre are HERE.

The situation of children and families with children who are being detained in the Czech refugee detention centre in Bělá-Jezová is serious. By detaining them in these conditions, the Czech government infringes the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, said the Czech Ombudsman Anna Šabatová at an extraordinary news conference. Children are being held under worse conditions than those of prisoners in Czech prisons. The Bělá-Jezová is a former military establishment and the conditions there are worse in many respects than in Czech prisons. The Czech state imprisons individuals in Bělá-Jezová who have not been sentenced for any crime. Hundreds of children have been incarcerated in Bělá-Jezová. This is in conflict with the image of the Czech Republic as a civilised country.

When the Czech ombudsmand visited the Bělá-Jezová detention centre on 31st August, 2015, there were 147 children imprisoned there. During her visit there on 3rd October, there were 100 children in detention there.

Here are the ombudsman´s findings:

- Parents are being humiliated in front of their children. They are being transported in handcuffs into the detention centre and they are held behind a four-metre barbed wire fence. They are unable to explain the reasons for this situation to the children.

- The parents are unable to provide clothes and shoes for the childen. Instead of warm shoes, the children only have plastic flip flops.

- The children are terrified of the constant presence of uniformed security officials and police.

- Since there are no other activities, the children are playing at prisoners and the police. As another game, they are pretend-building tunnels to escape.

- A small playground for children is available for use only for a very limited time. Some children do not have access it it. There is only one slide and one climbing frame.

- There is a play room in the facility, but many children do not have access to it. Some children do not have access to any free time activities.

- Matresses are often unwashable and they are in a state which is in conflict with basic hygienic standards. There are iron bars in the windows. There are no curtains. Every night, the police drags the refugees from their beds in order to count them. Sometimes the police are helmeted and hooded.

- If the children are asleep, the parents must wake them up and make them stand up.

- Some mothers have lost contact with their children. Sometimes, their child is with their partner in Germany. The refugees have used up their telephone card which entitles them to two phone calls and cannot contact their relatives. When they are released, they do not know where to travel.

- The imprisoned foreigners are not given sufficient information about their situation. They do not understand why they are being detained in what they see as a prison. They do not understand why their mobile phones, watches, shoelaces, belts, money and other personal effects have been confiscated.

- The language barrier is a major problem when the foreigners try to communicate with the available doctors. This leads to mistrust and misunderstandings. It is difficult for the doctors to diagnose the patients. The doctors communicate with the foreigners using gestures.

- Lack of information is also due to lack of legal aid. The foreigners who are housed in the gymnasium and outside cells did not know there was an offer of free legal aid. All the detainees are entitled to free legal aid by law.

- In a Czech prison, every prisoner is entitled to walks in the fresh air, warm food, a chair, a wardrobe and direct access to a toilet. Many foreigners in Bělá-Jezová do not have access to such facilities.

- A four-member family, which is being held in Bělá-Jezová, will pay the Czech state 29 040 Czech crowns (1075 euros) for each month of detention.

The European Court for Human Rights considers the following characterisics as instances of infringement of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:

- Primarily adults are held in the detention centre

- The detention centre is under visible supervision of the police

- The facility is unable to provide children with activities which would interest them

In Bělá-Jezová all these three characteristics are present.

It is not possible to accept the above-mentioned conditions in Central Europe in the 21st century. The Czech Republic is traumatising the children. The detainees have not committed any crimes. They have not been sentenced. The Czech Republic allows that they should suffer.

Source in Czech HERE

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Obsah vydání | 15. 10. 2015