PRESS RELEASE – ARSIS: Detention of a large number of unaccompanied minors in the Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre, under unacceptable conditions and for long periods

Urgent measures are required to put an end to it.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Sixty-three (63) unaccompanied minors, detained under unacceptable conditions, were recorded on Monday, 19 August, by a team of the Association for the Social Support of Youth – ARSIS (1 social worker, 1 lawyer, 1 psychologist and 1 interpreter). The recording was performed as part of the regular visits carried out by the team on a weekly basis, aiming, on the one hand to provide legal and psychosocial support to minors detained at the Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre, and on the other hand for them to be informed by institutions and public authorities responsible for human rights and the protection of children in Greece. 

The above situation raises considerable concerns as regards both the process and the unacceptable conditions of detention.

Specifically, in the Minors Section of the Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre, at the time of our visit on 2 August 2019, 60 unaccompanied minors were being detained. On 6 August, although 6 unaccompanied minors had been placed in accommodation structures, 64 minors were still detained. At the time of our visit on 9 August 2019, the number of unaccompanied minors had risen to 68: minors from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Algeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Albania, despite the fact that another 5 unaccompanied minors had been placed in accommodation structures. Among the remaining detainees was one 13-year-old Bangladeshi national – registered as a Pakistani national -, one 16-year old minor from Algeria who had been held since 25.04.2019, two minors from Bangladesh and Pakistan who had been held for over 45 days and two minors from Afghanistan and Bangladesh who had been held for over 40 days.  

Today, 26.8.2019, the number of minors detained in Amygdaleza is 62, 3 of whom, despite being minors, are detained, voluntarily, in the adult’s section, and 59 in the juvenile section despite the 11 placements in accommodation structures for minors.

From our team’s intervention at the Amygdaleza Pre-Removal Detention Centre it transpired that there is now a steady and systematic increase in the number of detained unaccompanied minors as well as an increase in their detention time, under degrading detention conditions contrary to any concept of child protection. The high number of detainees, combined with the increasing length of detention time under unacceptable conditions, aggravates the already compromised psychological state of the minors and leads to tension and acts of desperation.

  • Most of the minors have still not received any information from the authorities concerning the process of recording their asylum request, and those who have already lodged a request for asylum have insufficient access to the Autonomous Asylum Team of the Amygdaleza Pre-removal Detention Centre.
  • No guardian has been appointed for the minors, nor does the government provide any legal assistance or interpreter, and there is a deficiency in the provision of psychosocial support and health care services.
  • Finally, there is a complete lack of recreational, sports and educational activities.

Detention of the above minors is illegal, since those of them who have been submitted to reception and identification processes are then detained in line with the fixed constant practice of the arrest authorities, that detain minors on the grounds of ‘’protective custody’’, instead of being accommodated in structures suitable for their age, as required by law. Not only is the minors’ detainment illegal, but also their further administrative treatment: they were detained without documents and instead of being submitted to reception and identification processes – as prescribed by law – a return decision was issued against them (without taking into account their vulnerability as minors) and then they were placed in custody. Many of the above minors were submitted to the so-called age assessment at the initiative of a non-competent agency, i.e. the Greek police, beyond any legal framework, guarantee or procedure.  

This detention of minors is clearly in breach of the international, EU and national legal framework and constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights.

We call on the authorities of the Ministries of Civil Protection and Labour, Welfare and Social Solidarity to take immediate measures to put an end to the illegal and inhuman detention of the unaccompanied minors and for them to be accompanied to suitable accommodation structures.

The detention of the unaccompanied minors constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment and it violates the rule of law and our democracy.

The Detention Sites Intervention Team of the ARSIS – Youth Support Centre is implemented by ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth and financed by the UNHCR.

Download the press release here.