12 February 2020
As the European Commission is gearing up to issue the new Pact on Migration, it is fundamental to ensure that Children are afforded the priority they deserve and their rights are fully respected. Migrant children are at high risk of being victim of violence, exploitation and trafficking at the hands of organised crime, thus going missing and unaccounted for.
The European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights has been extremely vocal throughout the whole Common European Asylum System, stressing that children are entitled to special protection in light of their vulnerability, and succeeded in including a set of amendments introducing specific provisions for the protection of migrant children. It is important that all the safeguards for children included in the texts adopted by the European Parliament in the previous term are upheld in the New Pact on Migration, as well as in the pieces of legislation that will follow, including in the ongoing recast of the Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (so co-called ‘Return Directive’), ensuring that we do not go backwards.
“It is staggering that 40% of the individuals pushed back in the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are children! We are witnessing a flagrant violation of the human rights of these children at the border. A child is first and foremost a child, regardless of their migration status, and is entitled to set of protective measures. I strongly condemn the violence applied by the Croatian police at the border and urge the Croatian authorities to immediately start an independent monitoring, involving the Ombudswoman and civil society organisations, on the situation at the border, as well as to independently investigate all the complaints ”- said our co-chair MEP Saskia Bricmont (Belgium, Greens/EFA) following a Greens/EFA fact-finding mission to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina on 7 – 9 February 2020, together with MEPs Erik Marquardt and Tineke Strik.
According to the European Migration Network’s report published in July 2018, more than 30,000 unaccompanied children went missing between 2014 and 2017. These alarming figures have been also reported by Missing Children Europe.
“It is fundamental to increase cooperation among law-enforcement authorities and ensure that Border Management systems are integrated with child protection system and child protection officers are present at all times to perform an individual and thorough best interest of the child assessment in all decisions concerning children at the border” – concluded MEP Saskia Bricmont, Co-Chair of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights.
For more information:
Emilio Puccio, Coordinator of the Intergroup on Children’s Rights
Lise Schwimmer, Assistant to Saskia Bricmont, LIBE Committee, Children’s Rights Intergroup, Delegation Maghreb countries