Strong recommendations on asylum-seeking children in Concluding Observations of the CRC to Greece

Friday, October 4, 2013

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in the framework of its sixtieth session which took place between 29 May and 15 June 2012, considered the consolidated second and third periodic report of Greece at its 1710th and 1711th meetings held on 6 June 2012 and adopted its concluding observations on 15 June 2012.  

The concluding observations under Section G, asylum seeking children take special note of the fact that according to article 19 of the Law 220/2007, transposing the EU “Reception Conditions” Directive, the Public Prosecutor for minors or, where not present, the competent First Instance Public Prosecutor, will act as a temporary guardian and will take all necessary actions for the appointment of a guardian for each asylum-seeking or refugee child and that the State party’s legislation (Presidential decree 114/2010 on the Greek Asylum Procedure) provides for the possibility of determining an individual’s age, when it is disputed, through medical examinations.

The Committee also notes the programme initiated by Greece in cooperation with Frontex, on screening and briefing, aimed at the determination of age and nationality of asylum seeking and refugee children. However the Committee expresses its concern that the Public Prosecutors either are unable to assign the guardianship to a responsible person or agency, or transfer the guardianship to Directors of the reception centres for minors, and that the duties of the temporary guardian are vague and unclear.

As to this point, the Committee called upon Greece to
(a) Introduce appropriate legislative amendments to the national legislation, to enable the establishment of a functional, substantial and effective guardianship system for unaccompanied and separated minors;
(b) Ensure that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are promptly appointed a legal representative in order to effectively access the asylum procedure, as well as assistance and protection, including access to free interpretation; and
(c) Create a national best interests determination procedure that is complemented by procedural safeguards, in order to guide public and private institutions and administrative authorities in their actions affecting third-country national children.

Furthermore, the Committee noted the efforts made by Greece since the consideration of the previous report in 2002 regarding the increase of reception facilities for unaccompanied and/or separated children, as well as the new law 3928/2011 on the establishment of new initial reception centres which is supposed to be fully operational in autumn 2012 and will provide screening and accommodation for migrant and unaccompanied children but the Committee reiterated its previous concern at the substandard conditions of reception of unaccompanied and/or separated children. As to this matter, the Committee recommended that Greece:

(a) Ensure that children, either separated or together with their families, who enter the country in an irregular manner, are not detained, or remain in detention only in very exceptional circumstances and for the shortest period of time necessary;
(b) Create new reception facilities and increase the number of spaces in already existing structures, while ensuring adequate conditions in those facilities; and
(c) Sign the planned Memorandum of Understanding with the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide assistance to unaccompanied alien minors.

For the full text of the Concluding Observations on Greece please visit: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Concluding Observations on Greece

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Child Specific Considerations
Best interest of the child
Reception conditions
Unaccompanied minor