Differential treatment of specific nationalities in detention



Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

In 2016, discrimination against certain nationalities continued to be applied in practice, as asylum applicants from some countries are not released and their status determination is conducted in the detention centres. The overall detention duration decreased to 9 days on average. Just 0.6% of the first applicants, 75 persons, were detained for more than 3 months and only 0.3% of them, 43 persons, for more than 6 months.

However, despite the insignificant percentage of such detentions against the average duration, this violation was particularly serious, as it was based on clear discrimination on account of the nationality of asylum seekers, who suffered from protracted detention. Instead of being released, the status determination procedures of asylum applicants from discriminated nationalities were conducted in the detention centres, in violation of current national asylum legislation.1

In June 2015, the government deported to their country of origin a group of rejected asylum seekers from the Ivory Coast, whose procedures against the status determination, held in 2014 in conditions of detention, were still pending before the court. In January 2016, another group of Pakistani nationals was also deported back to their country of origin despite their ongoing asylum procedures.

The countries of origin of discriminated nationalities, however, kept changing constantly, as in 2014 this discriminatory approach was applied towards applicants from Maghreb region (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco), in the first half of 2015 towards applicants from the Ivory Coast and Mali, during the second half of 2015 and throughout 2016 it was applied towards applicants from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. A group of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who applied in mid-2016 are still detained as of 20 January 2017. All of them have been registered and issued asylum identity card while still in detention in violation of the law. Starting from November 2016 after the events in Harmanli reception centre (see section on Grounds for Detention), this discriminatory approach was extended and presently is applied towards some, not all asylum seekers from Afghanistan who fit the profile of being young at age and single.

The average detention duration applied to discriminated nationalities in 2016 was 173 days or 5.7 months.     


  • 1. Article 45b LAR.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti