Project Description

Credit: IE/Alexia Barakou


Minor Migrants: Europe’s Prisons

January 15th, 2020

Credits: Art Direction & Motion Graphics Design: Alexia Barakou Sound design: Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos & Alexis Koukias-Pantelis Narration: Pavlos Zafiropoulos


European society has been swift to condemn President Trump’s appalling imprisonment of minor migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in Latin America. But with children making up a third of the refugees and migrants coming to Europe, is Europe’s record really any better?

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 countries.

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 sexual abuse.

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.

Read the full report from Ingeborg Eliassen and Stavros Malichudis.

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 permission

Read the full story by Paulo Pena

Listen: Der Tagesspiegel article

Investigate Europe journalist Nico Schmidt reads his German language article from Der Tagesspiegel on the detention of Minor Migrants.

Media Partners

“PPA tunnistab: Eesti oli varem pagulasperedega liiga karm”
“PPA admits: Estonia used to be too tough with refugee families”
“Co roku w Polsce od stu do dwustu dzieci trafia do zamkniętego ośrodka, choć nie popełnia żadnego przestępstwa”
“Every year in Poland, between one and two hundred children are put in closed centres, despite not committing a crime”
“Norge har internert 97 barn de siste to årene. Ingen ser de innelåste asylbarna.”
“The children that nobody sees. Norway has detained 97 children in the past two years. Nobody sees the locked-up minor migrants.”

30th March 2020

Les petits morts de Lesbos
The little dead of Lesbos

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