France Condemned by European Court for Detaining Migrant Children

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against France 11 times in May 2023 for violating the rights of migrant children who were detained in administrative centers or hotels pending their deportation.

The court found that France had breached Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, and Article 5, which guarantees the right to liberty and security.

The cases involved children from various countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Iraq, and Sudan, who had arrived in France either alone or with their families. Some of them had applied for asylum, while others had not.

The court criticized France for failing to provide adequate care and protection for the children, who were exposed to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, lack of access to education and health care, and risk of violence and exploitation. The court also noted that France had not taken into account the best interests of the child or the principle of family unity when ordering their detention and removal.

The court ordered France to pay damages ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 euros to each child or family, as well as legal costs.

These rulings add to a long list of condemnations that France has faced from international and national human rights bodies for its treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, especially children.

Rokhaya Diallo, a prominent French human rights activist and journalist, commented on the court’s decisions:

“These judgments are a shameful reminder of how France is failing to respect its human rights obligations towards migrant children, who are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. Detaining children for immigration purposes is never acceptable and can have lasting physical and psychological consequences. France should end this practice immediately and ensure that all migrant children are treated with dignity and compassion.”

Diallo also called on France to adopt a more humane and inclusive approach to migration and asylum policies, in line with its values and international commitments.

“France should not see migration as a threat or a problem, but as an opportunity and a responsibility. France should welcome migrants and asylum seekers with solidarity and generosity, and offer them protection, integration, and participation. France should also cooperate with other European countries and countries of origin and transit to address the root causes of migration and ensure safe and legal pathways for those who need them.”


Detention of children: European Court of Human Rights rules against France 11 times, Statewatch, May 11, 2023,