European countries are not allowed to imprison children under the age
of 13. This age limit, however, does not apply to children seeking
asylum. As a result, children are being detained in guarded centres –
often behind barbed wire and prison bars – in almost all European
In Poland, for example, each year up to two hundred children who have
not committed a crime are sent to closed detention centres. In Greece, a
teenager was recently murdered in the ‘children’s safe zone’ of a
refugee camp, and a nine-month old baby died of dehydration.
Investigate Europe spent three months looking into the detention of
child migrants across Europe, gaining access to camps and talking to
refugees, state officials, psychologists and paediatricians.
Our Investigate Europe reporters found children living in dangerous
conditions in overcrowded camps, children denied access to proper
schooling and lacking vital medical care, children prone to depression
and suicidal thoughts, and children facing violence and abuse including
We found that these human rights abuses are not so much the fault of
corruption and incompetence, but the desired effect of policies drawn up
in the heart of Europe with the aim of creating a severe deterrent.
Scroll down to read the full story in our Media Partner publications below.
Europe’s new refugee regime: Pushing external borders to the limit
The task of receiving refugees has largely been left to Greece. While
asylum centres in northern Europe shut down, 40,000 children and adults
remain crammed into refugee camps on Greek Islands in unsanitary and
dangerous conditions. Without a collective approach this winter, there
are warnings that the entire system may collapse.
BORDERLANDS – Minor migrants imprisoned in Europe
From the remote island of Mayotte in the Comoros Archipelago, a
French department next to Madagascar; the Moria camp on the Greek island
of Lesbos; Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish territory cities in Morocco; and
cosmopolitan airports in Berlin, Lisbon or London – our investigation
found children being detained, against international rules, whose only
crime is that they are trying to enter European territory without
INSERT: LISTEN DER TAGESSPIEGEL ARTICLE
Investigate Europe journalist Nico Schmidt reads his German language article from Der Tagesspiegel on the detention of Minor Migrants.