Every child deserves safety. But in France unaccompanied children are being dangerously failed.
Unaccompanied children seeking safety in France should be given the same care and protection as a child born in France – but this new report shows that this is simply not happening.
From appalling living conditions to police violence, the basic rights of children are being violated each and every day.
The report presents the following recommendations to the French authorities:
- Any unaccompanied child arriving at France’s borders must be admitted to the territory unconditionally and must be able to benefit from effective care and protection;
- Children who are at risk must effectively and unconditionally benefit from child protection services; special attention should be paid to children who are potentially unaware of the concept of “minority” (namely a person under 18) and the right to be protected;
- Anyone self-declaring as a minor must be presumed as such and protected until proven otherwise, and their minority should only be disputed by a court order;
- During the procedures, unaccompanied children must be guaranteed access to clear and understandable information in a language that they understand, and to the effective exercise of their rights (ad hoc support by an administrator in the cases provided for by law, right to an interpreter, right to care, right to seek asylum, etc.);
- There is an urgent need to guarantee the right of every child to join or be joined by a family member if it is in their best interests;
- An appropriate mechanism to detect, identify, refer and support victims of trafficking, whether presumed or proven, should be put in place alongside regular training for the competent authorities;
- There must be an immediate and definite end to the detention – in any shape or form – of unaccompanied children at the borders and throughout the whole of French territory;
- Unaccompanied children must be effectively protected from any expulsion procedures that could endanger them.