Child and teenage migrants in Paris, in March 2019 | Photo: InfoMigrants
Child and teenage migrants in Paris, in March 2019 | Photo: InfoMigrants

Mediterranean states France and Morocco have inked a deal on child migrant returns. The text of the agreement on the care of unaccompanied underage migrant children notably calls for "concrete tools" to facilitate the return of minors from France to Morocco.

France and Morocco, on Monday, signed an agreement on the repatriation of underage Moroccan migrants.

According to French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, the agreement calls for the establishment of "concrete tools" for taking care of unaccompanied minors from Morocco. Dupond-Moretti made the statement after meeting his Moroccan counterpart Mohamed Ben Abdelkader in Rabat.

The text has not been made public, according to French news agency AFP. However, according to information obtained by that agency, it is thought that ultimately the aim would be to allow French judges the possibility of ordering returns on the basis of placement decisions made by Moroccan judges.

Last month, French authorities threatened to reduce the number of visas granted to citizens of countries, especially northwest African nations, reluctant to take back their undocumented nationals, particularly those placed on radicalization watch lists.

Protections make expulsions difficult

France wants to equip civil servants and judges with tools "to take the measures best suited to the interests of these children, including return" to Morocco, Dupond-Moretti said.

Like other European countries, France has been stepping up efforts to expel migrants without a right to remain in France. For those under the age of 18, procedures are complex due to protections given to minors, particularly under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Abdelkader said Monday's deal sets out "the judicial framework defining [the roles of] different entities" including judges, the prosecution and social workers involved in the care of minors.

Between 16,000 and 40,000 unregistered foreign minors are living in France, according to estimates by charity workers and authorities.

Several dozen of them have been camping out in the Jules-Ferry Square in Paris. The tent camp for young migrants was set up in July by a group of associations and NGOs to highlight the plight of young people who claim to be minors.

A Moroccan expert involved in their case told AFP that many suffer from drug addiction: "All efforts to look after them have failed and none of them want to go home," the expert said.

With AFP


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