Migrants hiding in the woods between the municipalities of Ventimiglia and Olivetta San Michele at a step from the French border. Credit ANSA/ CHIARA CARENINI
Migrants hiding in the woods between the municipalities of Ventimiglia and Olivetta San Michele at a step from the French border. Credit ANSA/ CHIARA CARENINI

With a order issued on January 22, 2018, the Nice Administrative Court declared for the first time that the practice of immediately sending back unaccompanied migrant minors at the border with Italy is lllegal. The decision sanctioned French authorities for "a serious violation of the higher interests of the minors," governed by human rights conventions and international laws.

 According to the immigration section of the Italian Interior Ministry's website, on January 12 a 12-year-old Eritrean boy was arrested by French security forces immediately after he arrived at the station in Mentone-Garavan, just across the border from the Italian city of Ventimiglia. A procedure was immediately started in which to send the boy back, through a "refus d'entrée". The French association Anafé, which provides assistance to foreigners at the borders, filed a lawsuit against the measure together with the boy's lawyer in the Nice Administrative Court. The suit called for the annulment of the measure through a "procédure de référé", an urgent application available under French administrative law. 


The court's decision 

The judge in the Nice Administrative Court ruled in favor of the boy, maintaining that the decision to refuse entrance to the minor migrant "represents an illegal and serious violation of the higher interests of the minor, guaranteed by international conventions on the rights of the minor", the association said in a statement. The Court ordered French authorities to reinstate the minor's rights by issuing a permit for entry into France, where his situation will be individually evaluated in the presence of a qualified interpreter.Anafé President Alexandre Moreau said he was satisfied with the decision, despite the fact that "there's still a lot of work to do to guarantee that the rights of all minors who come to this border are respected by the French administration". "The French administration must respect its international obligations and the applicable legislation to provide efficient protection to any unaccompanied foreign minor, and, more generally, to any person in need of protection who arrives at the French-Italian border," Moreau said. 
 

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