France migrant policy criticised
Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris
October 29, 2009
France's system of detaining and deporting unaccompanied migrant children flown into Paris has been criticised in a damning new report.
The French government says children arriving at the capital's leading airport have not yet entered France.
This denies the children the right to appeal against their deportation, says the US-based group Human Rights Watch.
The report includes testimony from children who say they were strip-searched, handcuffed and intimidated.
French authorities say they are trying to improve conditions for immigrant children.
No proper safeguards?
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), in 2008 French airport police deported one third of the 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children who arrived at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, detaining them in a transit zone in the same facilities as adults.
The organisation claims France's refusal to accept that the unaccompanied children have arrived on French soil on reaching the airport denies them the rights granted to other migrant children – such as appealing against their deportation.
In its 60-page report, HRW expresses concern that there are not proper safeguards in place to check that children will be looked after once they have been deported to another destination.
The report concedes that the French government does try to provide a guardian for each unaccompanied minor who arrives at the airport, but adds that those guardians have little power.
The French government says the airport transit zone is a way to protect children from dangers such as trafficking gangs.