Although Ukraine has seen a steady decrease in the numbers of arriving and transiting migrants in recent years, EU policymakers remain fixated on the country as a stepping stone into Europe. A case in point is the enormous sums of money Europe has spent to boost its detention capacity.
Refugees and migrants can be detained for illegal border crossing (without appropriate passport or visa or crossing the border in a forbidden place etc.) from 3 hours up to 10 days by the border guards in special temporary detention facilities for foreigners and stateless persons (this is an administrative detention under art.263 of the Code of Administrative Offences of Ukraine).
After this the border guards apply to the administrative court with the application to detain the person up to 12 month for deportation. Once this decision is made in favor of the border guards the person is send to Migration Custody Centre (under the supervision of State Migration Service). Such court decision can’t be retrial and the person stays in MCC the whole time. Officially you can appeal this court decision; however you have to do it within 5 days under Ukrainian legislation. Practically it is impossible to apply to the court in this short time as the appeal should be send in Ukrainian language, the biggest part of detainees have no written court decisions on detention and expulsion and they should have a lawyer who could bring it to the court, and prepare the appeal. This all should be done while the person is on the way from one of the border detention centres to MCC (one places in Volyn region (165 places) , another one in Chernigiv region (208 places).
Access to social, medical and legal assistance in detention centers: in Ukraine only UNHCR or IOM partners have access to detention facilities and provide there any kind of assistance. Often asylum seekers and migrants complain they do not receive legal or social assistance, but other NGOs can’t control it because of the access absence.
A lot of detained migrants and asylum seekers are deprived of legal representation on a court hearing on detention and deportation as no one inform the detainee on date and time of such hearing. After the hearing the detainees say they even have no appropriate translation on the court hearing and didn’t understand what was going on and where they have been.
For the last 3 years detention facilities are not full, they are half –filled, because the migration route via Ukraine is not used so much by refugees and migrants any more. The Ukrainian governement continued building new detention centers ( two big ones in Donetsk and Mykolaiv regions, and a lot of small ones on the border line (under SBGS jurisdiction) from EU money.
globaldetentionproject on detention in Ukraine
Although Ukraine has seen a steady decrease in the numbers of arriving and transiting migrants in recent years, EU policymakers remain fixated on the country as a stepping stone into Europe. A case in point is the enormous sums of money Europe has spent to boost its detention capacity. In 2011, 30 million Euros were allocated to build nine new detention centres in Ukraine, reportedly with the aim of locking up “readmitted” migrants sent by EU countries. However, even Ukraine’s Accounting Chamber, a parliamentary body that oversees the use of the national budget, has contended that the country’s existing migrant detention capacity exceeds its needs, pointing out that there are two guards for every detainee. Complementing Ukraine’s growing detention infrastructure have been a slate of new laws aimed in part at regulating the treatment of non-citizens in the country, including the adoption of new immigration legislation in 2011. Some observers have pointed to detention-related gaps in the new law, including its failure to prohibit the common practice of re-arresting migrants upon release and detaining them again for the maximum period allowed. Find a map of Ukrainian detention centres and detailed information here.
Migrants can be detained without court decisions
In December 2012, UNHCR Ukraine published a statement concerning the newly-adopted amendments in Ukraine. UNHCR states, that these amendments to the Law on the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine give the State Border Guard Service the power to authorize the detention of foreigners and stateless persons in the Migrant Custody Centre, if the individuals were detained in the border regions while attempting or making an illegal border crossing. Until now, such detentions have been authorized by a court, not an administrative body, and this is the better approach. According to the Ukrainian constitution, detention should be authorized by a court (Art. 29), and European human rights law reinforces this norm, which is a fundamental guarantee for individual liberty.
Furthermore, UNHCR criticizes that Ukraine failed to introduce periodic judicial review of detention in cases where persons are in administrative detention pending deportation. In Ukraine, such detention can last up to 12 months. Read more here.