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Bringing child immigration detention to an end: The case of EU return procedures

Anastasia Karatzas

Date: 18/11/2022
The harmful consequences of child immigration detention are, by now, increasingly well-documented. Evidence attests to the long-lasting and negative impact of the practice on children’s health, well-being and development, and has given rise to an international consensus firmly against its continued use.

However, the European Union’s policies fail to reflect any such agreement, which is evident not least in the context of the Return Directive and member states’ continued use of the practice. As it stands, the detention of minors is permitted by the Directive and remains a plausible option both according to the European Commission’s proposal to recast it and the Council of the EU’s position on the matter.

Furthermore, although the Directive mandates member states to explore all plausible alternatives and use child immigration detention only as a measure of last resort, evidence suggests that detention is prolific and other measures underused. In the recast proposal, little looks set to change on this front either, with the use of alternatives having fallen mostly by the wayside.

In this context, this paper argues that, with negotiations on the file ongoing, the time for the EU to shift gears, ban the practice, and mandate member states to implement alternatives is now opportune.

Read the full paper here.
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