World Bulletin / News Desk
France detains 500 unaccompanied immigrant children who arrive in the country alone each year in transit zones at the borders, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday.
"These children can be held in one of more than 50 transit zones for up to 20 days, during which time the French government claims they have not entered France and where they are denied the protection and due process rights afforded other unaccompanied children on French territory", said HRW report.
“The children are physically in France, yet not in France in the eyes of the French law, and this legal trick denies them protection,” explained Alice Farmer, a children’s rights researcher at HRW.
Unaccompanied children already “in” France are not detained and are given full asylum hearings.
HRW accuses France of using a "legal loophole" to "compromise children's rights.”
The report said that children detained in the transit zones, including at the Roissy airport, France’s largest transit zone, are subject to a truncated due process and face an expedited asylum test.
They are sometimes detained with unrelated adults – in violation of international standards – making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
However, the number of unaccompanied children arriving in France has fallen to about 500 a year, from about 1,000 in 2008 according to HRW.
The watchdog urged France to "immediately" stop detaining children in transit zones. The watchdog asks for the unaccompanied children to be admitted after arriving at the border and to determine their immigration status, and if appropriate, assess the child’s age through multidisciplinary exams.
Out of the 8,883 people held in transit zones in 2012, 416 were unaccompanied minors and 542 were detained in 2011.
About 90 percent of those children are held in Roissy airport in Paris, one of Europe’s largest airports and a major entry point into Europe’s open border zone, the Schengen area, according to official statistics.Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2014, 13:28