Francois Crepeau, special UN rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, urged Greece on Monday to stop detaining refugee and migrant children in police cells. Following a fact-finding mission to the country from May 12 to 16, Crepeau called on the country to develop child protection services rather than keep minors locked up — for weeks, in some cases. He suggested alternatives to detention, such as a guardianship system.
Spending 16 days in a police cell is way too long, says Crepeau, pointing to the need for a body of competent professionals to take care of the unaccompanied children.
“Children should not be detained — period,” says Crepeau. “Detention should only be ordered when people present a risk, a danger, a threat to the public and it has to be a documented threat, it cannot simply be a hunch.”
The Save the Children charity estimates that 2,000 unaccompanied children who traveled alone to Europe or lost their families on the way are stranded in Greece whereas only 477 shelter spaces are available.