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Conference on migrant children’s detention starts in Prague

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Prague, Sept 25 (CTK) – An international conference looking into the different aspects of detention of migrant children with the aim to find alternatives to it started in Prague on Monday.

During the past years, thousands of children affected by migration have come to Europe, often without the company of relatives.

Some of these children have been put to detention facilities, which is a practice that is being criticised by Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and by the Red Cross.

The organisers of the expert meeting on detention of migrant children said that last year, the number of refugees reached a record high of 22.5 million globally, of whom almost half were children.

“Children represent a huge part of the migrants, not only in Europe. Many are fleeing from war, poverty or discrimination. They are especially vulnerable, they need protection and care and they have a right to it. Our countries are obliged to provide it to them,” Christos Giakoumopoulos, the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, said on Monday.

There is a need to inquire into the extent by which child detention is in breach of the international human rights standards and whether there are different and better ways of dealing with child migrants, Giakoumopoulos said.

By their nature, detention facilities cannot be favourable to children, for barbed wire and playgrounds simply do not match, Muiznieks said.

Detention leads to fear and depression, especially for children without the accompanying adult, he said.

The European Court of Human Rights issued several verdicts limiting the countries’ possibility of detaining children, although it has not banned child detention yet, Muiznieks said.

Muiznieks said that a system of custodial care was a key solution.

Pinar Aksu, who immigrated with her Turkish parents to Britain as a child, described her personal experience with detention at the conference.

Aksu said they were treated like criminals, deprived of freedom without a cause, stripped of human rights and that she saw violence against families and people who committed suicide, because they have given up hope.

Ivana Todorovska of the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee said the conditions regarding immigration detention of children remain dismal to this day.

She criticised child detention in police cells or even in prisons for prolonged periods of time, often with adults who were strangers to them and without access to sanitary facilities.

The committee recommended that children be entrusted to carers who would be adequately trained and would protect their rights.

According to the latest statistics of the Czech Refugee Facilities Administration, there are currently no children in the Bela-Jezova detention facility.

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