France condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for the confinement of minors, including babies, in a detention center

France condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for the confinement of minors, including babies, in a detention center

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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned France in two separate cases of placement in a detention center for foreign minors, some of whom are very young, aged seven and eight months.

Two more convictions for France for the placement of foreign minors in a detention center. This Thursday, May 4, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned the State in two separate cases, concerning sometimes very young children, aged seven and eight months.

In a first case, France was condemned for the detention, decided in January 2021 by the prefecture of Bas-Rhin, of a Guinean mother and her son aged seven and a half months, for nine days, with a view to their transfer to Spain under the so-called ‘Dublin III’ regulation, indicates the Court in its judgment. “Given the very young age” of the child, “reception conditions in the Metz-Queuleu detention center” where they had been sent and the duration of the detention, “the Court considers” that they have been “subjected to treatment which exceeded the threshold of seriousness required by Article 3 of the Convention” European Union of Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment, underlines the ECHR. The latter allocated a total of 19,000 euros to the applicants.

A similar violation was found in another case, that of four Angolans, a mother and her three children aged eight months, six and thirteen at the time of the events. By decision of the Bas-Rhin prefecture, they had been detained at the beginning of 2020 at the administrative detention center (CRA) in Metz-Queuleu, then transferred to CRA N.2 in Mesnil-Amelot (Seine-et-Marne) with a view to their transfer to Portugal, again under “Dublin III”. “Beyond a brief period of retention, the repetition and accumulation of the effects generated […] by a deprivation of liberty necessarily entail harmful consequences for a minor child., insists the judicial arm of the Council of Europe, according to which the applicants had been detained for ten days. The Court awarded them 8,000 euros for material damage.

Eleven convictions on the subject, according to La Cimade

In these two cases, the ECHR also found violations of the right to liberty and security, and of the right to have the lawfulness of the Convention detention decided speedily. In both cases, it had also activated an article which governs emergency measures, to demand and obtain the end of detentions.

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“The two judgments delivered today (Thursday) by the ECHR concerning France […] are in line with the observations made by the Defender of Rights before the Court”, reacts the institution, which had filed conclusions in the two procedures as a third party. The Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon, “deplores” Nevertheless “this new condemnation of France which shows the persistence of the placement of children in administrative detention centers, despite the previous condemnations of the ECHR since 2012 and the conventional commitments of France, and in disregard of the rights and the higher interest of the child”we added.

These new decisions bring to eleven the number of condemnations of France by the ECHR on this subject, reacted Thursday the association La Cimade, present in several CRAs in France. The confinement of children, insisted the association, “significant source of stress and anxiety, is violent and traumatic and constitutes inhuman or degrading treatment” whatever “the age of a child and the duration of his confinement”.

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