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“Children coming alone as migrants should not be automatically returned” says Commissioner Hammarberg launching the “Human Rights Comment”

Strasbourg, 21.04.2010 – “Every day unaccompanied migrant children arrive in Europe, but their needs are not always duly met. Whatever possible difficulties of integration and accommodation they might face here, a humane society should take their problems more seriously and avoid sending them back regardless of the consequences.”

With these words, Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, published today an article on the rights of unaccompanied migrant children, the first of a series to be published in the “Commissioner’s Human Rights Comment”.

The Commissioner observes with concern the practice of quickly returning children to new reception centres established in their country of origin. “Authorities in Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reported to be looking into the possibility of sending children back to such institutions in Afghanistan, Iraq or a couple of countries in Africa” he said.

Commissioner Hammarberg stressed that this practice should be carefully assessed against the child's best interest, including their safety and protection, and that any policy on children migration must abide by the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

During my visits to member States, I have met quite a number of unaccompanied minors who have managed to find their way to Europe. Their problem was less the separation from parents - however difficult - than the threats and grim prospects in the home country. For them the child institutions would be no solution. “

 Published in English, French and Russian, the Commissioner’s human rights comments can be used by media without prior consent, provided that the text and the audio are not modified and the original source is indicated. The specific website also contains video and audio files on the Commissioner’s work. RSS and social networks tools are available as well.