Unaccompanied child asylum-seekers: European Court of Human Rights


Written Submissions on behalf of Statewatch as Third Party Intervenor in the case of Sh.D and others v Greece, F.Y.R.O.M, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia (Application No: 14165/16, pdf): The Statewatch Intervention invites the Court to find that:

"States party to the decision to close the Western Balkans route knew or ought to have known about the continued serious systemic deficiencies in the Greek state in respect of asylum seekers, and particularly in respect of the reception, guardianship and processing of claims of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Non-admission at the border along the Balkan and neighbouring states of unaccompanied asylum seeking children seeking access to the territory violates non-refoulement obligations under international refugee and human rights law and is incompatible with Article 3, ECHR."

The Intervention finds that:

"In view of the widely reported continuing serious deficiencies and significant delays in practice for reception (and use of prolonged de facto detention), guardianship and access to asylum processes by UN and EU agencies and non-governmental organisations, the Intervener submits that there remains no evidential basis that could lead this Court to reach a different conclusion to that which has prevailed to date, namely that the omissions to date of the Greek authorities in implementing a system of monitoring, supervising, assisting and safeguarding the best interests of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children persist at a level of severity of degrading treatment such as to amount to a breach of the state’s obligation under Article 3, ECHR." and:

"The Intervener therefore submits that while every country has the prerogative to control its borders, action by the Balkan states and neighbouring states to push back at the border or reject refugees and asylum-seekers based on their nationality and without any possibility of claiming asylum or otherwise having their individual circumstances taken into account violates the nonrefoulement obligations. The direct consequence of the decision to close the West Balkans route is to knowingly expose individuals – and in particular unaccompanied children, acknowledged to be a most vulnerable category of persons - to “the risk of proscribed ill-treatment” 75 in breach of Article 3, ECHR." [emphasis in original]

 

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