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OSCE: Immigration detention is never in the best interest of children and must end

According to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) immigration detention is never in the best interest of children, so it is necessary to increase efforts to end it entirely. ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci said that “Deprivation of liberty has a serious impact on any migrant, but it has a particularly damaging effect on children.”

A recent review of legislation and practices by the UN in 38 European countries found that immigration detention of children takes place in at least 27 countries in the OSCE region. The role of ODIHR is to ensure the safety of migrant children and respect for their rights. During this year the Office has trained 43 human rights defenders from the OSCE region in human rights monitoring at international borders, including immigration detention facilities. They play a crucial role in documenting the immigration detention of children, as well as helping ensure their release. ODIHR contributes also to support countries across the region in designing and carrying out inclusive integration policies that take in board the specific needs of migrant and refugee children.

There are also examples of good practices and alternative measures that avoid detaining migrant and refugee children.These include supported independent living, foster and family-based care for unaccompanied children and supervision and case management as alternatives. These and similar measures need to be taken into consideration and made use of wherever possible.
All OSCE countries are committed to recognise the rights of the child in their domestic legislation in line with international agreements. States have also recognised the need to actively promote the rights and interests of children involved in or affected by armed conflict and post-conflict situations, including refugees and internally displaced children.