Saturday

16th Dec 2017

Greece's locked up migrant children attempt suicide

  • The Pagani detention centre, Greece (Photo: UNHCR)

Greece is imprisoning unaccompanied migrant children in violation of EU laws and often in appalling conditions, human rights campaigners have revealed.

In a report detailing how asylum seekers and irregular migrants are being detained "as a matter of course, rather than a last resort," Amnesty International has excoriated Athens for its policy of imprisoning children for long periods.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Conditions are so appalling, the report says, that children resort to hunger strikes in protest at their imprisonment, and some even attempt suicide.

"It is never acceptable that children are detained. Children should not be subjected to poor conditions and long periods of confinement," said says Nicolas Beger, head of the group's Brussels office.

"Although Greece is experiencing economic hardship and is receiving a large number of migrants, these issues cannot serve as an excuse for treating children in such a way."

The group documents how conditions in a "vast number" of the country's immigrant detention centres are poor, with overcrowding and sanitation a problem.

Unaccompanied children who are captured by authorities when arriving in Greece are usually detained following their arrest for irregular entry. Where a deportation order is issued, detention continues until a legal guardian is appointed and a place found in a special reception centre for unaccompanied children.

Overcrowding is problem particularly in the summer when a large number of migrants attempt to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to what they believe to be the promised land of the European Union.

At the Pagani immigration detention centre in the summer of 2009, some 150 children went on hunger strike to protest the length and poor conditions of detention. More than 850 people, including 200 unaccompanied children, 150 women and 50 small children, were kept in overcrowded and insanitary conditions.

It was only after a visit from the UN High Commission for Refugees, and the ombudsman for the rights of the child, that the authorities released 570 people, mainly families with kids and unaccompanied children.

In a letter to the European Commission, the group has demanded the EU executive take action to ensure that Greece adheres to its legal obligations to migrants and refugees - and particularly their children.

Amnesty International believes that there should be a prohibition on the detention of unaccompanied children provided by law, but even in the absence of such a step forward, Greece is beholden to a number of international and EU obligations that should prevent such situations from occurring.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Greece is a party, states that in their best interests, ‘‘unaccompanied or separated children should not, as a general rule, be detained, and that a government provide "special protection and assistance" to children who are not in their family environment.

Furthermore, the EU's Reception Conditions Directive sets out special provisions for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors.

"The reality for migrants in Greece is dire," said Mr Beger. "The EU must put pressure on Greece to improve the situation. Each and every person has the right to basic legal assistance and to humane treatment upon arriving in an EU country."

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states