PACE Migration Committee strongly opposed to detention of undocumented migrant children

Strasbourg, 14.09.2012 - Undocumented migrant children are, first and foremost, children, the PACE Migration Committee recalled at a hearing on the detention of unaccompanied and accompanied undocumented children organised in Paris on 14 September. It underlined that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in any action taken in relation to the child and the child’s family.

The detention of unaccompanied children can never be in the best interest of the child. Furthermore it is in conflict with many elements of basic international human rights law. It is damaging to children’s development and their physical, psychological and emotional health, participants at the hearing were told.

More and more Council of Europe member states move away from the detention of children, but much more needs to be done. The liberty of the child is a fundamental right, the Committee agreed, stressing that it was crucial to find alternatives to detention.

Finally the Committee called for an increase in the exchange of best practices, including on mechanism to find alternatives to detention for undocumented migrant children and methods of fairly and accurately assessing the age of these children.