Doris Fiala: ‘too many migrant children are still being detained in unacceptable conditions’

“Today is Universal Children’s Day, a day on which we celebrate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This Convention reminds us that children are first and foremost children, irrespective of the national, ethnic or any other status,” said Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children.

“Unfortunately, as we celebrate today the recognition of this fact, we are forced to admit that we still have a long way to go to ensure that this day does not remain just a symbol, but becomes a reality and a reason to celebrate. The statistics are overwhelming; half of the world’s refugee population are children and many of them are unaccompanied. Too many of them are exposed to violence, both physical and psychological. We must not forget especially that in many cases, psychological pain can have an even deeper and more lasting effect on the development of a child than illness or injury,” she stressed.

“The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has been conducting a Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children since April 2015. Children are recognised as vulnerable and yet are still being kept in conditions that are simply unacceptable. Depriving them of their liberty, putting them in detention centres, closed camps or any other prison-like spaces because of their immigration status is a terrible violation of children’s rights. We should put a definitive end to it,” she said.

“We should protect these children, provide them with safe accommodation, education, ensure the respect of their right to a family life and their right to play. We should protect the best interests of the child.

This is our common duty as member States of the Council of Europe,” Ms Fiala concluded.