The Ombudsman, Maria Lúcia Amaral, advised the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) to avoid “situations of excessive isolation of persons who are detained in spaces equivalent to temporary installation centers (EECIT) while waiting for a decision to be taken. entry permit ”.
In a document from the National Prevention Mechanism (MNP) for torture and ill-treatment by the Ombudsman, Maria Lúcia Amaral calls on the SEF to “establish, after a maximum of seven days in detention, a systematic mechanism for transfer to the Santo António Housing Unit (UHSA) of unaccompanied foreigners who are deprived of their liberty in EECIT, in order to avoid situations of excessive isolation ”.
Located in Porto, UHSA is the only temporary installation center for foreigners or asylum seekers with adequate housing conditions and legal, social, medical and psychological support.
The Ombudsman's appeal came after MNP agents more than once confirmed situations of excessive isolation, “incompatible with the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment to which the Portuguese State is naturally subject”, read. if in the document.
In 2018, MNP, during a visit to Porto Airport's EECIT, came across a detainee “who had been alone in the women's wing for about 30 days”. The case led the agency to take steps with SEF, which transferred the detainee to UHSA.
The case generated “apprehension” at the MNP and this year, although the agency's annual report “had a positive outcome” with regard to the episode described, in the visit to the same EECIT of Porto in June this year, the authority again came across with an identical situation of excessive isolation.
The National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Mistreatment was created in 2013 as an independent body under the Ombudsman's Office. MNP conducts unannounced visits to places of detention to prevent situations of torture, ill-treatment or other abuse.
Its activities focus on prisons, youth detention centers and temporary detention centers (and similar spaces), and visits to other places of deprivation of liberty, such as detention cells in police stations or courts. , and to hospital units with psychiatric hospitalization.
The MNP has the power to issue recommendations to the competent authorities "in order to improve detected deficiencies or to remedy situations that are not compatible with the international obligations assumed by the Portuguese State".