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Patvēruma meklētāji sūdzas par “Mucenieku” centra vadību

Asylum seekers complain of poor treatment at Mucenieki center

"They take away the television, punish by taking away food packs, and a family with an infant must live in a moldy room," such complaints have been received by asylum seekers in Latvia from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus at the accommodation center Mucenieki. The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office (PMLP) under whose leadership the center is, denies these claims, Latvian Television reported on January 21.

The asylum seekers met by LTV said – they like it in Latvia, they want to stay here, and the attitude is good everywhere,  except the head of the “Mucenieki” center, Nauris Bērziņš. Allegedly, he does not listen to complaints, and those who complain get in trouble, such as police checks in the rooms.

“No one explained to people that it can happen. Here are people who have fled a variety of problems, including violence. And many were terrified. They tried to get in my room too, with a check. And all our rooms were checked,” said Maria, an asylum seeker from Russia.

“The police come in with a dog. I woke up from the dog standing next to me, looking at me. And a man wearing a mask on his face in civilian clothing. No introduction, nothing. Asks some incomprehensible questions,” said Andrei, an asylum seeker from Ukraine.

Katerina fled from Russia with the whole family. According to her, she is wanted in Russia as a member of a “terrorist group” because she has been organizing various protests for several years.

“We agitated. We have made a lot of efforts to stand against Putin specifically and against power, against corruption. When Navalny was poisoned and imprisoned, we spoke about the release of political prisoners. And when the war began, we specifically protested against the war,” said Katerina. “We were encouraging people not to go to the recruitment points. We tried to provide legal support.”

At the shelter center, Katerina complained that there was mold in the room. Even though she tried to remove it with the toilet cleaning agent the center gave her, it had failed. Her child suffers from dermatitis and mold contributes to the symptoms of the disease.

Although there were other free rooms, the Center's management allegedly refused to move the family even after the recommendation of the Health Inspectorate and a doctor at the Children's Hospital.

"We were even prepared to go to a smaller room, even for a while, while it is disinfected and the mold is cleared. But even that issue was not dealt with.”

The conflict lasted several months. The family was finally moved last week. But they and their supporters say they are refused food packages and transportation vouchers. They only get €3 per person per day.

Instead of Nauris Bērziņš, head of the “Mucenieki” center, LTV interviewed his superior, who did not see any irregularities. The punishment is "in conformity with internal rules if the behavior of the residents needs to be adjusted".

"If people don't understand argumentation, then different bonuses are limited. One of the bonuses is also food packages, and transport tickets. These are bonuses, which are not necessarily due to the asylum seeker," said Maira Roze, chief executive of the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs.

The PMLP claims that the center has been assessed at the European Union level as very high quality, and points out that only a small percentage of residents who regularly behave loudly at night or use profanities are to blame.

“Well, one should respect the country they came to, a little bit. And if there is a real need for asylum and asylum is provided, it is also necessary to deal with this whole situation a little,” said PMLP Chief Executive Roze.

Katerina rejects the claims for showing disrespect.

"I wasn't. I always tried to talk with respect. There were a few moments when we just came from the hospital, then I spoke in heightened tones. But I was under terrible stress. I had just checked out of the hospital with a child who was short of breath. And he [Nauris Bērziņš] tells me with a shameless smile on his face – we won't help you!"

According to the State Police, there are currently eight cases of administrative violation related to the possession of drugs and excise goods among the residents of the “Mucenieki” center. An inspection of what the police have been doing in the residents' rooms of the “Mucenieki” center is also ongoing.

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