Greece: ICJ and others intervene in case of unaccompanied children before European Court

The ICJ and others intervened before the European Court of Human Rights in a case of five undocumented children of Afghan nationality subject to detention and/or closed reception measures in Greece.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the AIRE Centre jointly intervened in the case of Sh.D and others v. Greece.

After his arrest by the police, Sh.D was placed in detention in a police station and then transferred to a reception centre for undocumented minors. The other four unaccompanied minors are currently living in the Idomeni camp at the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In this case, the European Court of Human Rights is called to rule on whether their detention and reception conditions were lawful and/or constituted an inhuman or degrading treatment under the European Convention on Human Rights.

In their third party intervention, the three human rights organizations submitted the following arguments:

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) must be implemented in all of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decisions that concern children. Since the principle of the best interests of the child must be upheld as a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, children must never be deprived of their liberty, under 5(1) ECHR, without a rigorous examination of the individual circumstances of the case, of necessity and proportionality, including a mandatory and prior assessment of less coercive measures.
  • For children to have effective enjoyment of their rights under international law, in particular the ECHR, and EU law, including the right to liberty and security and the right to asylum, their needs, welfare and well-being must be individually assessed. The discharge of State obligations to ensure enjoyment of these rights is reliant on the appointment of a guardian with the necessary expertise and who has the specific duty to assist the child by enabling him or her to access rights under EU law.
  • Since measures affecting the right to liberty and other Convention rights must be undertaken in accordance with national law, they must also, where Contracting Parties are EU Member States, be undertaken in accordance with EU law.

Greece-ICJ&others-AmicusBrief-ShD&others-ECtHR-legalsubmission-2016 (download the third party intervention)


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