council of europeSTRASBOURG (22 September 2014) – On Friday 3 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will debate a resolution that calls on member states to prohibit the immigration detention of children.

The draft resolution, which was adopted unanimously on 9 September by the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, expresses concern regarding the growing use of immigration detention of children in Council of Europe states, calling the practice and “unequivocal human rights violation”. It points out that even for very short periods of time and in relatively humane conditions, detention has severe negative long- and short-term effects on children’s physical and mental health.

According to the draft resolution, several member states have taken steps towards ending the immigration detention of children and implementing non-custodial alternatives. Such alternatives, “when implemented properly, are more effective, cheaper, better protect the rights and dignity of children, and promote better health and well-being outcomes for migrant children” it states.

The draft resolution calls on members states of the Council of Europe, inter alia, to:

  • Acknowledge that it is never in the best in interest of a child to be detained on the basis of their of their parents immigration status;
  • Prohibit the immigration detention of children in law and ensure its full implementation in practice;
  • Develop child-friendly age assessment procedures; and
  • Adopt alternatives to detention that fulfil the best interest of the child.

This represents a key opportunity for PACE to affirm the urgent need to end child immigration detention in Europe, and thereby add to an increasing body of guidance on this issue at the international and regional levels.

In 2012, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) made clear that immigration detention is never in a child’s best interests and is always a child rights violation. The Committee urged states to “expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status,” a call which has been echoed by the European Parliament. Last month, the Inter-American Court issued an advisory opinion reaffirming the principle of liberty for migrant children and stating that detention is never in their best interest.

The International Detention Coalition calls on members of the Parliamentary Assembly to join these bodies in reaffirming the principle of the best interest of the child and to vote in favour of the resolution.


For more information, see:

PACE News: States must ban the detention of child migrants ( 9 September 2014)

IDC factsheet on children in immigration detention

Joint letter to the European Council on children’s rights (May 2014)

– IDC publication ‘Captured Childhood’ (2012)

Posted 22 September 2014