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5.6.5. Children in the reception system

children in reception

Saturated reception centres and the surge in the number of unaccompanied children across the EU created multiple issues for their accommodation and support, for example in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Due to a shortage of places in provincial reception facilities in Austria (see Section 4.7), unaccompanied children needed to spend months in large federal reception facilities. In addition, UNHCR was alarmed about their high abscondment rate and the lack of follow-up in these cases.United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2022, October 5). UNHCR, UNICEF und IOM: Dringender Handlungsbedarf für Obsorge ab Tag 1 [UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM: urgent action needed for custody from day 1]. https://www.unhcr.org/dach/at/82969-unhcr-unicef-und-iom-dringender-han…  The national authority underlined that in their view there was no link between the situation in reception – which they consider to be fully in line with the recast RCD – and the abscondment rate, and many of the applicants claimed to be between 16-18 years old but their minority had not yet been established.

Fedasil identified several challenges for the reception and support of unaccompanied minors. The organisation noted that it was able to offer general support for these children, but many of them had specific needs due to their age, psychological or psychiatric vulnerabilities, disabilities or addiction. The group of unaccompanied children in reception was also rather homogenous in Belgium, with 80% being Afghans. The agency assessed that this required the deployment of a greater number of initiatives aiming for their long-term reception.Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers | L’Agence fédérale pour l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile | Federaal agentschap voor de opvang van asielzoekers. (2022, April 29). Réflexions autour de l’accueil des Mena [Reflections on the reception of unaccompanied minors]. https://www.fedasil.be/fr/actualites/accueil-des-demandeurs-dasile/refl…

The Odisee College presented the results of a 2-year, AMIF-funded study on adapting reception centres to families’ and children’s needs, which was endorsed by Fedasil.Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers | L’Agence fédérale pour l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile | Federaal agentschap voor de opvang van asielzoekers. (2022). Fedasil veut des centres mieux adaptés aux enfants [Fedasil wants more child-friendly centers]. https://www.fedasil.be/fr/actualites/accueil-des-demandeurs-dasile/feda… Still, the lack of enough places for unaccompanied children persisted throughout the year. Fedasil focused on expanding its accommodation places for children, but on 11 October 2022, the agency announced that only one-half of the children registered that day could also be accommodated.Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers | L’Agence fédérale pour l’accueil des demandeurs d’asile | Federaal agentschap voor de opvang van asielzoekers. (2022, December 10). Manque de places pour les Mena [Lack of places for Mena]. https://www.fedasil.be/fr/actualites/accueil-des-demandeurs-dasile/manq…

The ECtHR indicated interim measures in several cases throughout 2022, involving minor male applicants  (see Section 4.7).European Court of Human Rights. (2022, December 16). Court decides requests for interim measures form homeless asylum-seekers in Belgium. https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre-press#{%22itemid%22:[%22003-7525712-10331596%22]} In addition, some requests from unaccompanied minors were rejected as they had not obtained a final domestic decision, while others withdrew their requests for interim measures as they had obtained accommodation in the meantime.European Court of Human Rights. (2022, December 16). Court decides requests for interim measures form homeless asylum-seekers in Belgium. https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre-press#{%22itemid%22:[%22003-7525712-10331596%22]}  Caritas International observed in November 2022 that around 150 youngsters were sleeping on the street in Belgium, waiting to be accommodated, and many of them disappeared from the asylum system. https://www.caritasinternational.be/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/18.11.22…  Youngsters whose age was in doubt were in a limbo: the Guardianship Service did not conduct the age assessment, but without this, they were not offered shelter (see Section 5.6.3).Caritas Belgium. (2022, November 18). Situatie Pacheco [Situation in Pacheco building]. https://www.caritasinternational.be/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/18.11.22…

The Irish Refugee Council expressed concern about the safety of children and families in the Citywest Transit Hub in Dublin in a letter sent to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The organisation observed that sanitary facilities were not segregated by sex or by age, children were mixed with unrelated adults, and experienced and trained child protection personnel was lacking.Laura Fletcher (2022, December 19). Child safety concerns at Citywest transit hub. RTÉ. https://www.rte.ie/news/2022/1219/1342661-citywest-refugee-council/  In January 2023, the government announced that new international protection applicants would no longer be accommodated in the site’s emergency accommodation area, as it had reached full capacity.Government of Ireland | Rialtas na hÉireann. (2023, January 24). Citywest Transit Hub to pause entry of new International Protection arrivals to its emergency accommodation area. https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/489b6-citywest-transit-hub-to-pause…

At the beginning of 2022, the NGO CIR, with the support of UNHCR, published guidelines on supporting unaccompanied minors in Italy.Italian Council for Refugees | Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati. (2022, January 25). Online le Linee Guida per la presa in carico di MSNA richiedenti asilo [The guidelines for supporting unaccompanied minor asylum seekers are online]. https://www.cir-onlus.org/2022/01/25/online-le-linee-guida-per-la-presa… In March 2022, due to the arrival of Ukrainian children, the Italian government adopted the Plan for Unaccompanied Minors. The plan was updated several times throughout the year to address concerns as they arise,Ministry of the Interior of Italy | Ministero dell‘Interno. (2022, April 13). Emergenza profughi ucraini, aggiornato il Piano minori stranieri non accompagnati [Ukrainian refugee emergency, unaccompanied foreign minors plan updated]. https://www.interno.gov.it/it/notizie/emergenza-profughi-ucraini-aggior…; Ministry of the Interior of Italy | Ministero dell‘Interno. (2022, April 13). Addendum al piano minori stranieri non accompagnati provenienti dall'Ucraina [Addendum to the unaccompanied foreign minors plan from Ukraine]. https://www.interno.gov.it/sites/default/files/2022-04/addendum_1304202…  for example related to the prevention of trafficking of unaccompanied children.Ministry of the Interior of Italy | Ministero dell‘Interno. (2022, May 20). Piano minori stranieri non accompagnati ricerca in case di scomparsa del 20/05/2022 [Plan for unaccompanied foreign minors - Case Research of Disappearance of 05/20/2022]. https://www.interno.gov.it/sites/default/files/2022-05/piano_scomparsi_…

UNICEF published the results of research carried out in 2021 in six Italian regions on psychosocial support for adolescent and young applicants and beneficiaries of international protection. The mapping identified that successful initiatives focused on individualised support, employed a multidisciplinary approach and were attentive to linguistic and cultural needs. Some challenges were due to the structure of the reception system and external providers of mental health and psychosocial support.United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (2022, April 6). Buone pratiche per il supporto psicosociale per adolescenti e giovani rifugiati e migranti [Good practices for psychosocial support for refugee and migrant adolescents and young people]. https://www.datocms-assets.com/30196/1649406104-unicef-rapporto-mappatu…

Throughout the year, the National Association of Italian Municipalities highlighted the need to create more reception places for unaccompanied children and allocate more funds for their care. Due to the exceptionally high number of arrivals of children in need of temporary and international protection, accommodation and support services were often lacking, even though many new, dedicated places were created in 2022.Ministry of the Interior of Italy, Reception and Integration System (SAI) | Ministero dell'Interno, Sistema Accoglienza Integrazione. (2022, April 12). Crisi Ucraina, Anci in audizione al Senato, il delegato all’Immigrazione Matteo Biffoni: “Un fondo per minori soli, supporto a servizi sociali e ampliamento SAI” [Ukraine crisis, Anci in hearing in the Senate, the delegate for Immigration Matteo Biffoni: "A fund for unaccompanied minors, support for social services and expansion of SAI"]. https://www.retesai.it/crisi-ucraina-anci-in-audizione-al-senato-il-del…; Ministry of the Interior of Italy | Ministero dell‘Interno. (2023, June 6). Accoglienza dei minori non accompagnati, Piantedosi incontra al Viminale delegazione Anci [Reception of unaccompanied minors, Piantedosi meets the Anci delegation at the Interior Ministry]. https://www.interno.gov.it/it/stampa-e-comunicazione/comunicati-stampa/…; International Volunteering for Development (VIS) | Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo, Committee for the promotion and protection of human rights | Comitato per la promozione e protezione dei diritti umani, Don Bosco 2000 Association | Associazione Don Bosco 2000, & Salesians for social work | Salesiani per il Sociale. (February 2023). Input to the Asylum Report 2023. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-02/vis_comitato_promozi…; Arca di Noè Società Cooperativa Sociale | Arca di Noe Social Cooperative Society. (February 2023). Input to the Asylum Report 2023. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-02/arca_di_noe_societa_…

In Luxembourg, the Ombudsperson for Children and Youngsters focused the 2022 report on children in need of international or temporary protection and their reception.Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child | Ombudsman fir Kanner a Jugendlecher. (2022, November 15). Rapport 2022 [Report 2022]. http://ork.lu/index.php/de/les-rapports-de-l-ork/rapport-okaju-2022  The Ombudsperson concluded that not all reception structures were adapted to children’s and family needs, and children’s rights were often considered auxiliary. Some of the gaps included: insufficiently-protected sanitary facilities, the absence of systematised procedures when a child’s well-being is in danger, and gaps in the availability of psychological care. The Ombudsperson also noted that the facilities had been saturated and staff had been working at the limit of their capacity for several months, which exacerbated structural weaknesses. 

The Minister for Asylum and Migration acknowledged that, due to the significant increase in arrivals, emergency facilities needed to be opened, which could not be considered an optimal solution in the long-term. It confirmed that the authorities focused on closing them as soon as possible, and that the ONA was working on increasing the number of facilities fully adapted to the needs of families and children.Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child | Ombudsman fir Kanner a Jugendlecher. (2022, November 15). Rapport 2022 [Report 2022]. http://ork.lu/index.php/de/les-rapports-de-l-ork/rapport-okaju-2022  A draft law was pending in parliament to facilitate newly-arrived children’s access and integration into education.Projet de loi 8069 relative à l'accueil, à l'orientation, à l'intégration, à l'accompagnement scolaires des élèves nouvellement arrivés et à la création du Service de l'intégration et de l'accueil scolaires et modifiant : 1° la loi modifiée du 25 juin 2004 portant organisation des lycées ; 2° la loi modifiée du 6 février 2009 portant organisation de l'enseignement fondamental [Draft law 8069 relating to the reception, orientation, integration, educational support of newly arrived pupils and the creation of the Service for integration and school reception and modifying: 1° the amended law of 25 June 2004 on the organisation of high schools; 2° the amended law of 6 February 2009 on the organisation of basic education], September 2, 2022. https://www.chd.lu/fr/dossier/8069

Similar to a measure last year in the Netherlands,European Union Agency for Asylum. (2022). Asylum Report 2022. https://euaa.europa.eu/asylum-report-2022  as a one-time action, the care for unaccompanied children who were at least 17.5 years on 1 July 2022 was taken over by COA from Nidos, and the minors were accommodated in regular reception places instead of ones dedicated to minors. The measure was applied again, as there was an urgent need for reception places for unaccompanied children. Nidos underlined that once a child is moved to a regular reception place they are unable to provide the follow-up as foreseen in the Dutch Civil Code and Youth Law. The State Secretary noted this position but underlined that the alternative would be to leave children in overcrowded reception places and assessed that this would have more serious repercussions. Since November 2022, unaccompanied minors aged 17 years and 9 months or older are placed in regular asylum reception centres (azc’s), without special support. This measure was meant to be applicable until 1 March 2023, but due to persisting capacity issues for the reception of unaccompanied minors, the measure was prolonged until 1 September 2023. This applies to unaccompanied minors who register at the central registration centre in Ter Apel, as well as minors who have already been accommodated in facilities for unaccompanied minors until June 2023. In practice, COA and Nidos assess on a case-to-case basis whether a transfer to a regular asylum reception centre is possible. The Dutch parliament has been informed about the measure as well as its prolongation.

The State Secretary also noted issues with access to education for unaccompanied children at the process reception centre for unaccompanied minors in Ter Apel. Children normally stay there for only 5 days and are then transferred to a location with organised education. However, due to the pressure on the reception system, this stay had grown longer. A working group was set up with the municipality, COA and local providers to increase educational activities. In the meantime, children are offered four slots of Dutch language classes weekly, fitness and sports activities, other weekly activities organised by an NGO, intercultural coaches to support them, and weekly information sessions by the health service.Ministry of Justice and Security | Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid. (2022, August 2). Kamerbrief over diverse onderwerpen migratiebeleid [Letter to Parliament on various topics on migration policy] [Chamber piece]. https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/kamerstukken/2022/08/02/tk-dive…  In October 2022, the Court of the Hague – amongst other obligations – ordered the state and COA to create additional reception places for unaccompanied minors, particularly those who were staying for more than 5 days in the centre in Ter Apel. The measures were confirmed on appeal in December 2022. Throughout the year, several organisations, including the Ombudsperson for Children, the Inspectorates for the Ministries of Justice and Security, and Healthcare and Youth, and the special working group on children in reception expressed their concerns about the worrying conditions for children, especially at emergency reception locations.AIDA Netherlands. (2023). Country Report: Netherlands - 2022 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Dutch Council for Refugees. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-03/european_council_on_…

Throughout 2022, COA continued with AMIF-funded projects targeted at unaccompanied minors with behavioural issues who required more supervision and guidance.Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers | Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers. (January 2022). AMIF-projecten: opvang en begeleiding asielzoekers verbeteren [AMIF projects: improving the reception and guidance of asylum seekers]. https://www.coa.nl/nl/amif-projecten-opvang-en-begeleiding-asielzoekers…  The organisation also extended its collaboration agreement with TeamUp, established in 2015 by Save the Children, UNICEF Netherlands and War Child. The project offers psychosocial support to applicant children between 6 and 17 years through play and exercise. It is currently implemented in 37 COA locations.Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers | Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers. (2022, July 19). Samenwerkingsovereenkomst TeamUp verlengd tot 2024 [Collaboration agreement TeamUp extended until 2024]. https://www.coa.nl/nl/nieuws/samenwerkingsovereenkomst-teamup-verlengd-…

A new facility was opened in Ruse, Bulgaria for unaccompanied children and applicant children at risk. The facility has 16 places and 12 staff members. The municipality provides services in the centre, but this will be taken over by a private operator after a tender. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee welcomed the efforts of the State Agency for Refugees to accommodate unaccompanied children in family-type children’s centres.AIDA Bulgaria. (2023). Country Report: Bulgaria - 2022 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. https://asylumineurope.org/wpcontent/uploads/2023/03/AIDA-BG_2022update…  The Ombudsperson carried out an urgent inspection in the detention facility in the same municipality, which was used for investigative arrests after children were apprehended during an irregular exit, following the signalling of the National Network for Children. She found two Syrian children in the centre who had been detained for more than 40 days, and the authorities had not notified the child protection department. She also gathered other evidence that the detention of unaccompanied children was a common practice. The Ombudsperson requested the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Prosecutor to investigate the issue.Ombudsman of Republic of Bulgaria | Омбудстман на Република България. (2022, August 19). При проверка на омбудсмана в Русе: Тежки нарушения при ареста на непридружени деца - чужденци [In an inquiry by the Ombudsman in Ruse: Serious violations in the detention of foreign unaccompanied children]. https://www.ombudsman.bg/bg/n/pri-proverka-na-ombudsmana-v-ruse-tezhki-…

In Cyprus, the Deputy Minister for Social Welfare announced plans to transfer children from Pournara to a dedicated facility in Famagusta in March 2022.Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus | Γραφείο Τύπου και Πληροφοριών της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας. (2022, March 16). Δηλώσεις της Υφυπουργού Κοινωνικής Πρόνοιας σχετικά με τη μετακίνηση των ασυνόδευτων παιδιών από το ΚεΠΥ Πουρνάρα [Statements of the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare regarding the transfer of unaccompanied children from the Initial Reception Centre in Pournara]. https://www.pio.gov.cy/%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%BD%CF%89…% CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B1-%CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B8%CF%81%CE%BF.html?id=26660#flat  The move followed the opinion published by the Ombudsperson for Children,Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus | Γραφείο Τύπου και Πληροφοριών της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας. (2022, March 9). Δημόσια Τοποθέτηση Επιτρόπου σχετικά με την παραμονή στο δρόμο 30 ασυνόδευτων παιδιών [Public Position of the Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights of the Child regarding 30 unaccompanied children staying on the street]. https://www.pio.gov.cy/%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%BD%CF%89…  decisions taken during the extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on the situation in PournaraMinistry of the Interior | Υπουργείο Εσωτερικών. (2022, March 15). Δηλώσεις Υπουργού Εσωτερικών για τις αποφάσεις σε σχέση με το Κέντρο «Πουρνάρα», μετά τη σύσκεψη στο Προεδρικό Μέγαρο, υπό τον ΠτΔ [Statements by the Minister of Interior on the decisions in relation to the "Pournara" Center, after the meeting at the Presidential Palace, before the President]. http://www.moi.gov.cy/MOI/moi.nsf/All/95B7335FE006A118C22588060034DA7B?…  and the president’s visit to the centre.Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus | Γραφείο Τύπου και Πληροφοριών της Κυπριακής Δημοκρατίας. (2022, March 14). Ο Πρόεδρος της Δημοκρατίας επισκέφθηκε τον χώρο φιλοξενίας στο Πουρνάρα [The President of the Republic visited the reception centre in Pournara]. https://www.pio.gov.cy/%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%BA%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%BD%CF%89…% CE%BD%CF%84%CE%B1-%CE%AC%CF%81%CE%B8%CF%81%CE%BF.html?id=26592#flat  Previously, in 2021 the Cyprus Refugee Council and UNHCR reported on worrying living conditions for children in the centre, including the accommodation of children outside of the dedicated safe zone and incidents of alleged sexual harassment.European Union Agency for Asylum. (2022). Asylum Report 2022. https://euaa.europa.eu/asylum-report-2022

The Spanish Ombudsperson reiterated concerns about deficiencies in the reception of women and children arriving to the Canary Islands by boat, which in some cases led to their falling victim to trafficking. Accem reported that on mainland Spain the police dismantled a child trafficking network, where the victims were accommodated in a reception facility in Madrid.AIDA Spain. (2022). Country Report: Spain - 2021 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Accem. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-03/european_council_on_…  The AIDA report for Portugal highlighted similar concerns, noting that many children absconded from reception and were potentially at risk of trafficking.AIDA Portugal. (2022). Country Report: Portugal - 2021 Update. Edited by ECRE. Written by Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR). https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-03/european_council_on_…

The UNCRC acknowledged the creation of a national protection mechanism for unaccompanied children living in precarious conditions in Greece, but it expressed serious concern about the reception conditions of applicant children. The committee demanded that the authorities provide sustainable, open and quality accommodation outside detention, ensure access to essential services, such as food and hygiene, and address barriers in applicant and beneficiary children’s education, for example, by organising school transport, ensuring access to distance learning and providing catch-up courses.United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2022, June 28). Concluding observations on the combined fourth to sixth periodic reports of Greece [CRC/C/GRC/CO/4-6]. https://uhri.ohchr.org/Document/File/115ee2b4-0565-44c3-8973-8319f32fbc…  Civil society organisations welcomed the recommendations and further urged the Greek authorities to change their practices.I Have Rights. (February 2023). Input to the Asylum Report 2023. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-02/i_have_rights.pdf

Prior to the submission of the eighth periodic report on Greece, UNCAT requested the Greek authorities to provide more information on measures to ensure that unaccompanied children are detained only as a last resort.United Nations Committee against Torture. (2022, June 15). List of issues prior to submission of the eighth periodic report of Greece. CAT/C/GRC/QPR/8. https://docstore.ohchr.org/SelfServices/FilesHandler.ashx?enc=6QkG1d/PP… Due to the reduction of the number of applicants on the island of Leros, the non-formal education centre Ledu, managed by the NGO Arsis and offering educational and psychosocial support for children and their families since 2018, had to be reformed and continued its activities as a mobile educational unit. Its funding was taken over by UNICEF from UNHCR.Arsis | ΑΡΣΙΣ. (2022, February 11). Το Κέντρο Μη Τυπικής Εκπαίδευσης #LEDU συνεχίζει να παρέχει τις υπηρεσίες του ως Κινητή Εκπαιδευτική Μονάδα [LEDU Non-Formal Education Center continues to provide its services as a Mobile Education Unit]. https://arsis.gr/to-kentro-mi-typikis-ekpaideysis-ledu-syn/ European Website on Integration. (2022, December 1). Denmark: New website launched to promote reception of refugee children. https://ec.europa.eu/migrant-integration/news/denmark-new-website-launc…

The Danish Refugee Appeals Board analysed the situation of an unaccompanied minor who had received international protection in Greece but re-applied for asylum in Denmark. The board found no evidence that the child would be provided adequate housing considering his particular situation. It took into account that the child had no network in Greece, while he had several relatives in Denmark. Thus, the decision by the Immigration Service was overturned, and the case was referred back to the Immigration Service for a consideration of the merits of the asylum application. 

The civil society organisation Save the Children Denmark launched a new website with information and support material for volunteers and professionals welcoming newly-arrived children in need of international or temporary protection.Ministry of Justice and Public Security | Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet. (2022, May 12). Additional child-related expertise at asylum reception centres. No. 80 - 2022. https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/additional-child-related-expertis…

Following arrivals from Ukraine, the Norwegian government revised the national budget to employ more experts working with children in reception facilities.Ministry of Justice and Public Security | Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet. (2022, May 12). Additional child-related expertise at asylum reception centres. No. 80 - 2022. https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/additional-child-related-expertis…  The German Federal Ministry of the Interior also announced increased support to cities and municipalities to accommodate applicants for international protection and persons in need of temporary protection, especially in terms of housing and supporting unaccompanied children.Federal Ministry of the Interior | Bundesministerium für Inneres. (2022, November 10). Bundesinnenministerin Faeser: Großen Kraftakt gemeinsam stemmen [Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser: Working together to make a big effort]. https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/kurzmeldungen/DE/2022/10/spitzengesp… Nonetheless, the AIDA report for Germany cited examples of inadequate assistance to unaccompanied children due to the general overcrowding of reception centres in several locations over the country.AIDA Germany. (2022). Country Report: Germany - 2023 Update. Edited by ECRE. https://euaa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2023-03/european_council_on_…  The Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour launched a special procedure for the reception of unaccompanied children arriving from Ukraine.Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania | Lietuvos Respublikos socialinės apsaugos ir darbo ministerija. (2022, October 3). Apie į Lietuvą be tėvų atvykstančius vaikus iš Ukrainos būtina pranešti [It is necessary to report children from Ukraine arriving in Lithuania without their parents]. https://socmin.lrv.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-i-lietuva-be-tevu-atvykstancius…

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) issued its concluding observations on the third periodic report for Czechia, and it expressed concern that the detention of children was allowed prior to an age assessment. Children older than 15 years could also be placed in immigration detention.United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (2022, March 28). Concluding observations on the third periodic report of Czechia. E/C.12/CZE/CO/3. https://uhri.ohchr.org/Document/File/8e7b781d-018d-4e99-91ae-9ba5f48ab6…

In H.M. and other v Hungary, the ECtHR upheld its approach in previous case law and concluded that a 4-month stay in the transit zone amounted to a violation of the ECHR, Article 3.

The ECtHR condemned Italy for placing an unaccompanied minor in an adult reception centre, following an age assessment conducted in breach of the ECHR (see Section 5.6.3). The court noted that the facility was overcrowded, understaffed and the young applicant had difficulties in accessing medical care. The court acknowledged that the number of arrivals was dramatically high at the time of the facts, but this did not exonerate the country from its obligations under the ECHR, Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment).

A Polish district court provided compensation to a young boy who was placed in a guarded centre together with his adult friend. The court noted that the detention was justified and it was not possible to apply an alternative to detention before the boy’s identity was established and his application for international protection submitted. However, afterwards, the placement in detention was not justified. Authorities had not taken sufficient steps to clarify the relationship between the boy and the adult friend.

Several cases involved the detention of applicants claiming to be minors in Malta. The civil society organisation aditus actively challenged detention decisions throughout the year.Aditus foundation. (2023, January 12). European Human Rights Court orders Malta to release children from detention. https://aditus.org.mt/european-human-rights-court-orders-malta-to-relea… Aditus foundation (2022, November 5). Another successful Habeas Corpus for two men illegally detained for 42 days. https://aditus.org.mt/another-successful-habeas-corpus-for-two-men-ille… Aditus foundation (2022, July 26). Immigration Police Arrest 2 Minors Hosted in Shelter for Children. https://aditus.org.mt/immigration-police-arrest-2-minors-hosted-in-shel… Aditus foundation (2022, April 10). Malta still detains children with adults in Safi Detention Centre. Aditus Foundation. https://aditus.org.mt/malta-still-detains-children-with-adults-in-safi-… Aditus foundation (2022, January 25). Three Children Released From Illegal Detention Following Court Action. https://aditus.org.mt/three-children-released-from-illegal-detention-fo…  In a case from January 2022, the Immigration Appeals Board concluded that restrictions due to the applicant’s disease could not be considered as detention, and the Superintendent of Public Health was not required to issue a detention order or an order for the extension of the restrictions for up to 10 weeks. The applicant sent a complaint to the ECtHR, where the case was pending a decision. 

In another case, the Immigration Appeals Board found that the detention of a Bangladeshi applicant claiming to be a minor was lawful, as he had first given a date of birth that indicated that he was an adult. Pending the appeal of the age assessment, the board ordered that he should be accommodated in the buffer zone within an AWAS open centre. of another Bangladeshi applicant, the board found that the detention was lawful due to a risk of absconding but, as in the previous case, ordered the applicant to be transferred to the buffer zone of an open facility, pending the results of the appeal of the age assessment. For an applicant from Côte d'Ivoire, the board found the detention measure lawful and ordered that the applicant is kept in facilities adequate for minors pending the age assessment.

The Immigration Appeals Board in Malta ordered the immediate release of two children from detention as their age was determined in a procedure against the law (see Section 5.6.5). In January 2023, the ECtHR granted an interim measure wherein it ordered Malta to ensure that “the applicants’ conditions are compatible with Article 3 of the Convention and with their status as alleged unaccompanied minors” who arrived by boat in mid-November 2022. The Immigration Appeals Board found in December 2022 that the detention of children was legal but requested that a legal guardian is appointed to them.Aditus foundation. (2023, January 12). European Human Rights Court orders Malta to release children from detention. https://aditus.org.mt/european-human-rights-court-orders-malta-to-relea…

In Poland, the Association for Legal Intervention continued with its strategic litigation against the detention of applicant children at the national and European levels. (see Section 4.8).Association for Legal Intervention I Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej. (2022, May 4). Compensation for unjust deprivation of liberty of an unaccompanied child. https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/compensation-for-unjust-deprivation-of-… Association for Legal Intervention I Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej. (2022, June 14). Pleading against Poland for the detention of a traumatised family with children. https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/pleading-against-poland-for-the-detenti… Association for Legal Intervention I Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej. (2022, August 4). We ask for compensation for unlawful detention for a family from Afghanistan. https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/we-submit-an-application-for-compensati… Association for Legal Intervention I Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej. (2022, September 27). We submit a complaint to the ECtHR against unlawful detention of a family with a child. https://interwencjaprawna.pl/en/we-submit-a-complaint-to-the-ecthr-agai…