From file: A demonstration to support migrants in France | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/JULIEN DE ROSA
From file: A demonstration to support migrants in France | Photo: ARCHIVE/EPA/JULIEN DE ROSA

Various associations in France have turned to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to call for an investigation into the treatment of foreign unaccompanied minors in the country, who they claim are victims of "serious and systematic violations" of their rights as minors.

The French Council of Associations for the Rights of the Child (COFRADE) and Kids Empowerment, with the support of associations and citizens' groups, have called on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to denounce the "serious and systematic violations of the rights of unaccompanied minors observed in France."

A statement released Monday (May 3) by Utopia 56, one of the associations involved, said their petition was declared admissible by CRC, opening the way for an investigation, which it said would be a "fundamental step towards reforming the current regulatory framework in France and overcoming condemnable local practices."

Action brought by associations

According to their petition, the associations are asking the CRC "to investigate violations committed by France, a signatory of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, in relation to the rights set out in this convention in terms of the reception and care of unaccompanied minors present in national territory; and to formulate observations and recommendations necessary for the protection of the rights of these children."

The associations provided a large quantity of data in support of their requests, including concrete examples of fieldwork experience showing France's serious and systematic violations of the rights of unaccompanied minors, in particular of their right to protection.

The 80-page document addresses specific areas such as access to health care, lodging and even education. In it, the associations conclude that in France "the rights of these minors, deprived of the protection of their families, are not respected."

Recognize 'presumption of minor age'

The petition attributes the denounced violations to two main factors: the denial of the minor age of which these children are victims, and which deprives them of the national child protection system; and the disparity in treatment of these children in France.

"While thousands of unaccompanied minors in France see their rights violated on a daily basis, the intervention of the Committee on the Rights of the Child must lead to the legal recognition of a 'presumption of minor age'," the organizations said.

"Currently thousands of unaccompanied minors can count only on the help of associations and groups of committed citizens, while each of them should be able to count on, just as every minor in the country, the protection of minors for which French public authorities are responsible."

 

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