28 08 2018

Quite often It is not until our basic rights are infringed, that we realize that they actually exist and that we are entitled to them – all, as human beings.

At the same time, we have some kind of congenital assumption for the law to be reasonable and the effects of it’s possible infringement – proportional.

Would then any of the EU citizens so used to travelling in the border free world of the Schengen zone ever imagine being deprived of personal freedom for many months for crossing the border within the Schengen area without the right to do so?

Is going from Poland to Germany without the right to do so (or overstaying Your visa or other legal title to stay for that matter) such a grave ’offence’ as to detain people, including families with children, even if it is for the purpose of securing their stay in Poland, that is preventing them from repeating such a travel?

Yet, for many third-country nationals that may be the everyday reality. Such a calamitous travel may result in being placed in a detention center. What does that really mean? First – not much privacy.  Having some of Your personal belongings placed in a deposit box, having one room at Your family’s disposal, a common bathroom with other residents, common meals at the appointed time of the day, going to sleep and waking up at the appointed time of the day – to mention few aspects. Second, and most importantly, not being able to leave the premises of the center.  What that entails? No going out to work, no sending Your kids to school, no going out for shopping, to meet friends or just for a simple walk on a nice afternoon, no inviting friends to come over either. If that doesn’t yet appear that difficult, let’s imagine such a state of idleness for a month, two months, half a year, whole year…  Let’s not even try to imagine though being in such a limbo and trying to cope with the after-effects of past traumatic events and living with fear of being deported to home-country, where danger may await us.

Having known that reality we welcomed the changes to the law that introduced the so called “alternative measures” – meaning, even if You do infringe the law in any of the above mentioned ways – the Court that will hear Your case has a choice. Being placed in a detention center is not the only option. The Court may impose less coercive measures – such as obliging You to live at the indicated address or reporting to the Border Guards at specified times.

If You ever find Yourself brought before the court in such circumstances always ask for a lawyer (or public defender if You don’t know any) and should the Court wish to impose some measures, argue for the alternative, less coercive ones and draw the Court’s attention to the fact that detention can only be imposed as a measure of last resort.

Personally, we would rather live in a world, where such detention centers were never invented. As long as they exist though – let us not forget and do realize the existence of basic rights, inherent to all human beings.