Detention Of Unaccompanied Migrant Children, Human Rights Watch Writes Greece

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has decried the increasing rate at which unaccompanied migrant children are held in unsuitable police cells and detention centers in Greece.

HRW in a letter dated August 2, 2017 issued to Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, quoted the National Center for Social Solidarity, a government body, to have revealed that, as of July 19, 2017, an estimated 117 children were in police custody awaiting transfer to a shelter unlike what was attained in November 2016 where only two unaccompanied children were detained.

According to the letter, “Human Rights Watch raised concerns with your ministry in 2016 about the dire conditions faced by unaccompanied migrant children detained in Greece, in reports published in July and September of that year.

“Our research then found that unaccompanied children were held for weeks and in some cases months in small, overcrowded and unsanitary police station cells.

“In some cases, they were held with unrelated adults even though this increases the risk of abuse and sexual violence and violates international and national law requiring the separation of adults from children in detention. The children did not receive information about their rights or about the process of seeking asylum and many of them experienced psychological distress linked to the conditions in which they were held. We little has changed are

While calling on the government to take urgent steps to end this abusive practice, they said, under international law, binding European directives, and Greek national law, detention of unaccompanied children can be used only as a measure of last resort, in exceptional circumstances, and for the shortest appropriate period.

“We urge you to ensure that your ministry and the Greek authorities as a whole take the following steps: Move urgently to ensure that unaccompanied children currently in detention are accommodated elsewhere in facilities suitable for children, by prioritizing efforts to create short-term alternatives to detention, including safe spaces in refugee camps.

“End the practice of automatic detention of unaccompanied children, and make individual assessments of the needs of each child based on their best interest.

“Amend legislation to shorten significantly the maximum amount of time unaccompanied children may be detained in protective custody in exceptional, emergency circumstances, and ensure that children are never detained in excess of the time permitted under law.

“Stop using police stations as de facto detention centers for children urgently improve detention conditions in police-run facilities and ensure that any children in detention have access to interpretation services, information about the purpose of their detention, counseling, legal aid, and educational and recreational materials.

“While ensuring adequate conditions, increase the number of spaces in existing long-term care facilities for unaccompanied children, create new facilities to the level required to ensure placements for all unaccompanied children in the country, and establish a national, government-run foster family system.

“Develop, after consultations with the United Nations and civil society organizations, and publicly announce a national action plan for the transition period and for the following period. This plan should include necessary measures to avoid any disruption or further deterioration of the services and living conditions of unaccompanied children in Greece,” the letter noted.

Human Rights Watch research has documented the arbitrary and prolonged detention of unaccompanied migrant children in police cells and other detention centers, in violation of international and Greek law. Under Greek law, unaccompanied children should be transferred to safe accommodation, but Greece has a chronic shortage of space in suitable facilities.

Posted by on 02/08/2017. Filed under Rights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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