The European Court of Human Rights grants interim measures in favour of two detained unaccompanied girls

The European Court of Human Rights grants interim measures in favour of two unaccompanied girls who were detained in the Pre-removal Centre of Tavros in view of their transfer to an accommodation facility for minors.

The Court indicated to the Greek authorities to transfer the minors immediately to a shelter for unaccompanied minors and to ensure that the reception conditions provided to them would be in accordance with article 3 of the ECHR.

 

The above action is implemented with the support of UNHCR (Provision of Legal and Social Assistance to Refugees and Asylum Seekers: GRC01/2019/0000000197/000).

Athens, March 28, 2019 –The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), applying Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, indicated interim measures in the case of two unaccompanied minors seeking international protection and ordered the Greek authorities to transfer them immediately from the pre-removal detention centre for adults to an accommodation facility for minors.

The case was supported by the Legal Unit of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and concerns two asylum seekers, female unaccompanied minors, who sought legal and social assistance in January 2019. Despite the fact that an application for accommodation in a shelter was immediately submitted to the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA), the competent authority for accommodating unaccompanied minors, and despite continuous reminders, the minors remained homeless, without appointment of a legal guardian. On 13/3/2019, being in grave danger due to their homelessness, they were escorted to a police station in order to be temporarily hosted in a children’s hospital, as a last resort, until space in a proper facility could be secured.

Following a negative response, the responsible prosecutorial authorities ordered their placement under “protective custody” and transferred them to the detention facility for adult women in the General Police Directorate of Attica Aliens Division (Petrou Ralli), where they remained in detention under completely inappropriate conditions, dangerous for their health and their age, and despite the fact that the detention of unaccompanied children can never be in a child’s best interest.

On 20/3/2019, since all efforts for their transfer to an accommodation facility had failed, in lack of a positive response from any State authority, the Legal Unit of the Greek Council for Refugees requested the intervention of the ECHR, in order to put an end to the violations of the minors’ fundamental rights and in order for the state to take necessary measures for their protection. Indeed, the Court admitted the application and granted interim measures the following day, 21/03/2019, by ordering the Greek authorities to transfer the minors to a shelter for unaccompanied minors and to ensure that their reception conditions will be compatible with art. 3 or the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment). The minors were transferred in an accommodation facility on 23/3/2019.

 

This case shows the huge existing gaps in the protection of unaccompanied minors in Greece, due to which unaccompanied minors, boys and girls, remain exposed to grave dangers. It also comes only one month after GCR’s public appeal to end the detention of unaccompanied minors, following the statements of the Minister of Migration that there are no unaccompanied minors detained in Greece.

GCR reiterates that the protection of the rights of children is a fundamental state obligation, according to national law and Greece’s international obligations, and calls on the Greek authorities to take all necessary measures for the protection of minor refugees, including the immediate application of an effective guardianship system of unaccompanied children, the increase of the number of available  accommodation places for minors, the prohibition by law of the detention of minors in the context of asylum and migration procedures and the immediate termination of the relevant practice.

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