Migrants detained in degrading conditions. The UN admonishes the Czech Republic

Secondo l’Alto Commissariato dell’Onu per i Rifugiati i migranti sono detenuti nel Paese europeo in condizioni simili a quelle di prigionieri.

The Czech Republic has systematically detained refugees in “degrading” conditions. The denounce comes from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which explained in a press release on 22 October how the situation is significantly alarming, particularly for children.


Rifugiati Repubblica Ceca
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees underlined migrants’ conditions (particularly of children) in detention facilities in Czech Republic ©Alexander Koerner/Getty Images


The High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that “the violations of the human rights of migrants are neither isolated nor coincidental, but systematic: they appear to be an integral part of a policy by the Czech government designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there”. In fact, the Czech Republic is “unique in routinely subjecting these migrants and refugees to detention for 40 days, and reportedly sometimes even longer – up to 90 days – in conditions which have been described as degrading”.


Zeid Unhcr
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Refugees (on the left in the picture), launched direct and harsh accuses to Prague’s governnment ©Jeon Heon-Kyun-Pool/Getty Images


Despite it is not the first time that the United Nations intervenes on migrants issues, this denounce represents the first direct attack to a single government. Moreover, it has been made with particular vehemence: “International law is quite clear that immigration detention must be strictly a measure of last resort. And as for children, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasized that detention of children on the sole basis of their migration status, or that of their parents, is a violation, is never in their best interests, and is not justifiable.”


Large Number Of Migrants Continue To Arrive At Macedonian Border
According to the UN, migrants were systematically deprived of their cell phones, making it impossible for them to contact their families. ©Matt Cardy/Getty Images


The most worrisome conditions have been found in the facility of Bila-Jevoza, about 80 kilometres north of Prague. Its conditions have been in fact described by the Czech Minister for Justice as being “worse than in a prison”. As reported by the news agency AFP, the Czech human rights official Anna Sabatova identified the presence of one hundred children (figures have been published in a report on 13 October).


The report also shows that migrants were deprived of their cellphones, making it impossible for them to communicate with their families. Zeid also denounces systematic strip-searches aimed at confiscating the equivalent of 10 euros per person every day: a sum that would represent the “payment” of their (unwilled) stay at Bila-Jezova. “The fact that people are being forced to pay for their own detention is particularly reprehensible,” Zeid concluded.


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