While in Serbia, you can be detained in one of the 3 detention centers for foreigners or imprisoned in one of the general jails.
Migrant detention centres in Serbia:
- “Padinska Skela”, Belgrade area
- Plandiste near the Romanian border
- Dimitrovgrad near the Bulgarian border.
Like in other countries, in Serbia migrants are imprisoned for illegal border crossing or residence. When you are charged for illegal border crossing or residence, you are always brought to court and ordered to pay a fine (around 50 -100 Euros).
If you cannot pay the court fine, you will be put into prison for around 5 -10 days (10 euros fine equals a day in prison, for those who have no means to pay the fine). You will be put into “general” district prison (okružni zatvor), not into a detention facility reserved for migrants. There are over 10 such prisons in the country, and you will be imprisoned in the closest one (usually most migrants are detained in prisons close to the border, but this depends on where you were arrested).
However, according to the law, asylum seekers are excused from the “offense” of “illegal” border crossing. If you are caught in “illegal” border crossing, you have the right to seek asylum (at any point in Serbia and during every interaction with the police or the authorities, so even in court), this would exempt you from the fine/prison. Nevertheless, people are often in practice denied the right to seek asylum. In this case, you have the right to contact a lawyer **
However, you can also be detained in one of the 3 detention centers which are only for migrant population. These detention centers are located in Padinska skela (Belgrade), Plandiste (near the Romanian border) and Dimitrovgrad (near the Bulgarian border). This is administrative detention, which means that you will not be taken to court, but instead police will bring you here. You can be detained for different reasons, such as not having identification documents, you didn’t leave Serbia after you got expulsion order, you gave fake identification information, you entered Serbia illegally (without visa and passport), etc. You can spend up to 180 days in this detention. Within those 180 days you might be deported to previous country (Bulgaria or North Macedonia) or maybe even to your home country.
You are not entitled to free legal aid neither if you are in detention nor in jail for illegal entry/residency so you will have to pay a lawyer on your own if you want to appeal against the decision on detention/jail.