Eight-year-old boy held for more than a week in French airport

This article was originally published here http://www.france24.com/en/20160331-8-year-old-boy-held-more-week-french-airport

An unaccompanied 8-year-old boy has spent more than a week at a holding area of a Paris airport after trying to enter France on a false passport, with rights groups accusing the government of breaking international law by keeping him detained.

The boy arrived at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport on March 21, having been put on a flight from the Comoros Islands, nearly 8,000km away off the east coast of Africa, by his mother.

The boy, carrying just a Spider-Man backpack and a French passport in his cousin’s name, had been due to meet a family member already living in France upon his arrival.

His mother wanted him to have a chance of a better life in France, according to reports in the French press.

But when authorities noticed the false passport, he was detained in one of the airport’s holding areas – the same used for adult passengers suspected of trying to enter France illegally.

On Friday, the Paris appeals court ruled that the boy’s detention at the airport should be extended “in the interests of his own protection” until a decision is made on his future.

Under French law, both adults and children who arrive in the country without papers can be held for up to 20 days before being either admitted or deported.

French children’s rights group La Voix de L’Enfant said in a statement Monday it wanted to express its “indignation and anger” over the child’s detention.

“Nothing can justify the detention of an 8-year-old … much less with his own protection as the motive. What protection is there for a child at a holding area when we know what kind of place it is?” it said.

It accused the French government of contravening the UN’s international convention on child rights, which says that the imprisonment of a child should be a “measure of last resort” and that detained children should be separated from adults and allowed to stay in contact with their family except for in exceptional circumstances.

‘Not a unique case’

Child protection lawyer Catherine Daoud said it was “shocking to see a little boy stuck in the same basket as the adults and with the police”, but that it was “unfortunately not a unique case”.

Figures show that 259 unaccompanied children had been kept in holding areas in 2014, Daoud told Europe 1 radio.

“For the child, it’s a prison. There are other solutions – we must put an end to the detention of minors,” she said.

France has been criticised for its treatment of children held in detention before. In a 2014 report, Human Rights Watch accused France of using a “legal loophole” to claim that children in transit zones, such as airports, are not technically on French territory and are therefore not afforded the same legal protection as other minors.

“Children detained in the transit zones, including at the Roissy airport, are subject to truncated due process and face an expedited asylum test. They are sometimes detained with unrelated adults – in violation of international standards,” it said.

Meanwhile, guardians assigned by the state to assist children during their detention “have very limited resources to respond to the children’s need for assistance” and that in some cases children receive no assistance at all, said the rights group.

Date created : 2016-03-31

This article was originally published here http://www.france24.com/en/20160331-8-year-old-boy-held-more-week-french-airport

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