Children’s rights: a UN committee calls on France to take “urgent measures”

Minor migrants deprived of their liberty, increasing poverty affecting children, too easy access to pornography on the Internet: France must take “urgent measures” to better protect the youngest, said the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Friday June 2.

In a report evaluating French public policies in this area, the Geneva-based committee says first of all “seriously concerned” by the situation of migrant children or asylum seekers. The French government must “end immigration detention of children, including in waiting areas” airports, where “the conditions are not suitable for children”write the UN experts.

The unreliability of bone tests

Authorities should also stop using bone tests to assess the age of unaccompanied foreigners who present themselves as minors, as this method is unreliable, they point out. When these people are not recognized as minors by the administration, but they contest this decision, they should be granted the “the benefit of the doubt” and continue to benefit from youth protection services while their appeal is being considered, say the experts.

The rapporteurs also deplore the fact that many unaccompanied minors only have a “limited access” child protection structures, “health and education, as well as accommodation”.

Too long legal delays, poverty in single-parent families…

Beyond the case of young migrants, the UN committee is concerned about the execution times “excessively long” court decisions relating to the protection of vulnerable children, cases of “violence and ill-treatment against children placed in institutions”or too frequent changes of foster family suffered by children in care, “in defiance of the ties forged with these families”.

Another concern is the “increasing number of children” affected by poverty, especially in single-parent families. The UN denounces the persistence of “slums” and situations of poor housing where children stay for a long time in accommodation “emergency”. Finally, France must “block sites that offer pornographic content without verifying the age of users”in order to protect the youngest, believe the authors.

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