The European Court of Human Rights provides interim measures to unaccompanied minors living in the RIC and the "jungle" of Samos island

The European Court of Human Rights provides interim measures to unaccompanied minors living in the RIC and the "jungle" of Samos island

Athens, December 30, 2019— The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, granted interim measures to five unaccompanied teenagers, asylum seekers, who have been living for many months in the Reception and Identification Center (RIC) and in the "jungle" of Samos island. The interim measures indicate to the Greek authorities their timely transfer to a centre for unaccompanied minors and to ensure that their reception conditions are compatible with Article 3 of the Convention (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment) and the applicants’ particular status.

 

The case was represented, before the ECtHR, by the Legal Unit of the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)1, in cooperation with ASGI, Still I Rise and Doctors Without Borders. It concerns five unaccompanied adolescents who have been living for many months in substandard conditions in the RIC of Samos and in the area around the Center, known as the "jungle", pending their transfer to an appropriate center, while no guardian has been appointed to any of them.

The children, before the Court, complain of their reception conditions, which constitute a gross violation of Article 3 of the ECHR: lack of access to adequate care, lack of adequate medical and psychosocial support services, lack of security, difficulty in accessing food, and inadequate hygiene facilities. Minors are exposed to violence, as fights, tension and riots are frequent in Samos RIC and to unsafe and unsecure conditions and a real risk of exploitation and abuse. Even in the so called "Minors Section" within the Samos RIC, where some of the minors live, the conditions are completely inadequate, and despite the alleged police control at its gate, adults have easy access to the Section.

It is noted that 7,497 people live in and around Samos RIC -while the capacity of the Center is only 648 places- in extremely degraded conditions2, which are dramatically deteriorating3.

It is due to these seriously sub-standard conditions in Samos RIC and in the surrounding area known as “jungle”, that the minors, also taking into consideration their extreme vulnerability as children, unaccompanied and asylum seeking, are exposed to imminent and irreparable harm to their physical and mental integrity, their well-being and social development.

This case illustrates the enormous gaps in protection for unaccompanied children in Greece, resulting in their exposure to serious risks.

The undersigned organizations reiterate that the protection of children's rights is a fundamental obligation of the State, in accordance with national law and its international commitments, and calls on the Greek authorities to take promptly all necessary measures for the effective protection of juvenile refugees, including immediate implementation of an effective Guardianship system for unaccompanied children, increasing the number of suitable accommodation for minors, prohibiting the legalization of juvenile detention on the grounds of asylum and immigration law and the immediate termination of this practice.

The undersigned organizations call on Europe to urgently respond to the challenge of protecting unaccompanied children in Greece, fully respecting the rights of the children and the principle of their best interests.

 

Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’ Immigrazione (ASGI)

Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)

Still I Rise

1 The above initiative was carried out by GCR with the support of UNHCR and the Dutch Council for Refugees. 2 Submission by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the case of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) v. Greece (Complaint No. 173/2018) before the European Committee of Social Rights, Registered at the Secretariat on 9 August 2019, https://rm.coe.int/cc173casedoc5-en-observations-by-the-unhcr/168096c416 . 3 Commissioner for Human Rights, Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities, 31 October 2019, https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/greece-must-urgently-transfer-asylum-seekers-from-the-aegean-islands-and-improve-living-conditions-in-reception-facilities

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