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Friday 23rd of March 2018

Press Room

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child calls for EU-wide ban on child immigration detention

Thursday 22nd of February 2018
Juvenile Justice in the world

Ahead of a key meeting of EU institutions and Member States on issues relating to migration and asylum, on 21st February the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) urged European countries to end the detention of children in the context of migration. EU law currently stipulates that migrant and asylum-seeking children may be placed in detention, as a last resort, if it is in their best interests. 

“EU law should not allow for child immigration detention, even as a last resort, and the reform of the Common European Asylum System is a timely opportunity to ban this practice,” said Renate Winter, Chair of the UN CRC.

Winter stressed that “the claim that detention is necessary to protect children from going missing, being exploited or ‘absconding’ is misguided. Detaining children, whether unaccompanied or on the basis of their or of their parents’ immigration status, is never in the best interests of the child and constitutes a violation of the rights of the child.”

The CRC further emphasized that irregular entry or stay should not be equated to the commission of crimes. According to the Committee, although the possibility of detaining children as a last resort exists in criminal law, it does not apply to immigration proceedings as that would never be in the best interests of the child.

When it is in the best interests of the child to remain with his/her family, the Committee highlighted that the prohibition of detention extends to the child’s parents as well. In such cases, non-custodial solutions must be found for the entire family.

A number of promising practices already exist in Europe and elsewhere, which allow for effective migration management while guaranteeing the protection of the best interests of the child. These include providing children and their families with community-based placement; access to services in a protective environment, on a non-discriminatory basis, with child-friendly, clear information and support; and the appointment of guardians at the point of arrival or upon first identification of the unaccompanied child.

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