Greece > Detention

last update: August 2016

Why was I arrested?

Most likely reasons:

  • Your paper run out of time.
  • You document had a limitation of movement and you were not allowed to: leave a certain place (i.e. an island) or move to a certain place (i.e. the prefecture of Achaia).
  • Some people who the Greek authorities at the time considered, based on their nationality, to have ‘manifestly unfounded’ claims for asylum were also detained in the Hotspots in pre-removal detention facilities, even if they arrived before 20th March.

For how long am I going to be detained?

According to the law, you can be detained from a few hours up to six months. Your detention can be extended twice, for a maximum of 18 months in total. If that happens then the competent authorities will issue a new detention decision. But nowadays, if someone is detained, he/she is in practice normally released after 6 months.
If you are an asylum seeker, according to the law, you can be detained for three reasons: 1. as long as it is necessary for the determination of your nationality, 2. if you are considered a public threat according to the police and 3. for the prompt and effective completion of the asylum procedure. If you apply for asylum during your detention, your detention cannot last more than 6 months in total (under 3, see above). If you are detained for reason 1 and 2 then the duration of your detention cannot exceed the 12 months. It can be extended only after a new individually justified detention decision issued by the competent authorities.

If you are from Syria, Jemen, Iraq, Eritrea, South Sudan, Palestine or Somalia (and registered as such) you will be either not detained at all or released very soon anyway as you should normally not be detained at all after your registration and identification because your deportation is considered not feasible by UNHCR.

If you are detained upon second arrest on the mainland nowadays and you do not belong to these 7 nationalities or you cannot prove belonging to them and have been registered wrongly, then you will be normally released after 6 months.

Attention: If you are an unaccompanied minor, you should not be detained but you might still be held longer than the others but not longer than 25 days, according to the law.

What are my rights while I am in prison?

  • I can lodge an asylum application
  • I have the right to spend one hour per day outside
  • I have the right to talk to a lawyer
  • I have the right to ask for medical treatment
  • If I am a minor or a woman I should be detained separately and not in mixed detention cells
  • I have the right to be informed about my rights and the asylum procedure in my own language
  • I have the right to make phone calls
  • Unaccompanied minors are usually detained until an available place is found in a reception centre for unaccompanied minors

How do I appeal before the court in order to be released sooner in case I am detained?

In order to appeal before the court against your detention, and in order to ask for your release, you need to have a lawyer. NGO lawyers don’t ask and don’t take money for this – or for any other procedure. Private lawyers will ask for money, for the court expenses. If you hire a private lawyer, make sure, you get proof/the receipts that the lawyer submitted an application.

Attention! No lawyer or other third person can apply for asylum in your place. Don’t pay money to anyone to do this for you. You personally have to lodge an asylum application before the competent authorities.

Everybody can appeal before the court to be released sooner – persons who apply for asylum and also the ones who don’t. If you have a relative or a friend who legally lives in Greece, you will need his address in order to prove that you have a place to stay upon release. Your friend or relative has to sign a specific document called “ipefthini dilosi” (Solemn Declaration) where he states that he is willing to offer you accommodation and submit that to the Court, along with his house/rent contract. The lawyer will have to submit these papers to the court, asking for your release.

For this application, it is important to say why you cannot stay any longer in prison. Important reasons are, among others: if you are sick, if you are a torture victim, if you have mental or psychological problems, if you have already applied for asylum, if you have a family in another European country. Remember to say these things to your lawyer.
In case your detention is prolonged, according to the law, there must be a review of your detention and a justified new decision issued by the authorities.

Go back