EU: Real alternatives to detention for migrant children should be used

Children should never be detained in immigration context. Immigration detention of children is never in their best interests and is not justifiable, said experts during a transnational workshop on Alternatives to detention vs. alternative forms of detention of migrant children held by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and partners on June 17 and 18.

“Instead of detaining children, case management should be used instead, and a community assistance and placement model should be used for families and children as an effective alternative to detention. Unaccompanied children should be placed within the mainstream care system,” Karolína Babická, legal adviser at the ICJ said.

During the workshop experts and practitioners from seven EU countries and international experts explored good and bad practices of alternatives to detention. In particular, the principle of the ‘best interests of the child’ was discussed as well as procedures for age assessment, and specific alternative arrangements for the care of children in migration, such as the return houses in Belgium, and regular reporting.

The group further explored ways to include unaccompanied migrant children in the mainstream child-care system rather than under the management of immigration authorities. The case-management and community placement model by the International Detention Coalition (IDC) was discussed in detail.

It was agreed that children must have access to procedural rights, including the right to be heard and to participate, access to information and to legal assistance and legal aid, access to interpretation, effective remedy and a guardian. Best interest of the child assessments as well as age assessment must be done through a rights-based approach, following child-friendly procedures and safeguards.

Any alternatives to detention applied by states should be monitored and regularly evaluated to ensure these do not constitute alternative forms of detention.

The workshop took place as part of the CADRE project and will be followed by second and third workshop as well as by on-line conferences and national trainings during the second year of duration of the project.

See the agenda here: Agenda CADRE Transnational workshop_17-18 June_final