Spain/Senegal: Repatriation agreement for minors comes into force

An agreement on the repatriation of unaccompanied Senegalese minors arriving in Spain illegally, signed by Jesús Caldera, the Spanish employment and social affairs minister, and the Senegalese employment and youth minister Aliou Sow in Dakar on 5 December 2006, came into force on 1 July 2008, after compliance with internal requirements for its implementation was attained by the two countries' governments. The agreement states the desire to strengthen and lend dynamism to bilateral relations due to the need for close co-operation to "protect" minors, both to resolve the problem of unaccompanied Senegalese minors in Spain and to prevent this phenomenon. To do so, while stressing the need to comply with national and international instruments including the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of Children, the contracting parties commit to establish a framework to work together to prevent the emigration of unaccompanied minors, and for the protection and repatriation of these minors, as well as establishing a permanent dialogue and exchanging data and information to tackle these issues efficiently, and to promote the children's re-insertion.

The stated goals of this co-operation are to adopt measures to prevent emigration, through the social and economic development of regions of origin by creating or improving the capacities of centres for education and re-insertion of minors, the control of people-trafficking networks that exploit them, and awareness-raising and information campaigns aimed at "minors, families and society" from regions of origin "about the risks that the emigration of unaccompanied minors entails". Assistance and protection measures for unaccompanied Senegalese minors in Spanish territory are envisaged, to be adopted by the competent authorities, which will provide any relevant information about their situation to their Senegalese counterparts within ten days, and the latter having 20 days to identify them and their families, and to expedite documentation to certify their nationality. The repatriation of minors is provided for, either back to their families or handing them to Senegalese care bodies, who will promote their social re-insertion. Spanish authorities will order their return, in accordance with national and international legal instruments, ex-officio or on proposal from the body with a duty of care over the minor.

Both parties will co-operate to guarantee that repatriation to their families or to a body responsible for their care occurs in compliance with due conditions, with Senegalese authorities responsible for organising reception mechanisms and social resources, public, private and from NGOs, for the care of repatriated minors. A monitoring committee involving members of both countries, whose purpose will be to exchange information about the entry, stay and repatriation of unaccompanied minors, to analyse and evaluate the measures undertaken in the field of prevention, protection, repatriation and re-insertion, and to propose interventions required to efficiently tackle the situation of unaccompanied minors, will be set up to facilitate operative relations and produce six-monthly reports on the agreement's implementation. Spain will cover the costs of protection of these minors in Spanish territory, and co-operate in co-financing actions carried out by Senegalese authorities for prevention, repatriation and re-insertion.

On 15 November 2007, the Federación Andalucía Acoge and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía produced a manifesto "for the respect of the fundamental rights of unaccompanied foreign minors", calling for them to be treated "first as minors rather than as immigrants", in response to an announcement by the Andalusian regional government to proceed to the "family re-grouping" of 988 minors in application of the repatriation agreement concerning unaccompanied Moroccan minors arriving illegally in Spain, signed between the two countries in March 2007. Challenging the regional government's claim that they did not fulfil the profile requiring provision of care (that of being "defenceless", "deasamparados" in Spanish), which is described as applying to any minor on Spanish territory without an adult responsible for "their material and affective needs in a normal manner", the manifesto expresses the groups' rejection "of any kind of non-voluntary repatriation, that contravenes human rights and the superior interest of unaccompanied minors".

Acuerdo entre la República de Senegal y el Reino de España sobre cooperación en el ámbito de la prevención de la emigración de menores de edad senegalese no acompañados, su protección, repatriación y reinserción, BOE, n. 173, 18.7.2008. http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2008/07/18/pdfs/A31413-31415.pdf

Background

"Spain/Senegal: Agreement to repatriate unaccompanied minors approved", Statewatch news online, September 2007

"Protecting foreign minors or getting rid of them?", P. Aierbe, Mugak/SOS Arrazakeria, 6.9.2007

Spain: Growing numbers of repatriations of minors envisaged, and the building of reception centres abroad, Statewatch news online, September 2007

Manifiesto por el respeto de los derechos fundamentales de los/las menores extranjeros/as extranjeros/as no acompañados/as. Menores antes que inmigrantes, APDHA, Andalucía Acoge, Seville, 12.7.2008,
http://www.apdha.org/media/manifiestocomunmena0707.pdf


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