The NGO Human Rights Watch publishes this Thursday, September 5 a report on the situation of unaccompanied migrant minors in the department of Hautes-Alpes, on the Franco-Italian border. Based on a survey of some 60 children and adolescents, mainly from West Africa, this report denounces multiple violations of both French law and international standards for the protection of children's rights.
They are between 15 and 18 years old. Victims of abuse in their countries of origin, they crossed the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Badly received in Italy, they try to pass in France, at the risk of being rejected by the police at the borders.
" From what the children we interviewed told us, when there are referrals, they are often arbitrary and often rely on the goodwill of one or more officers. The consequence is that many children - to avoid an interpellation - cross the border across the mountain in extremely difficult conditions , "says Bénédicte Jeannerod of Human Rights Watch .
And when they manage to pass in France, they are not at the end of their obstacles. The recognition of the minority is often denied. " The procedures, as they are implemented in the department of Hautes-Alpes, are extremely defective," says Benedicte Jeannerod . For example, in his assessment interview, the child will be accused of lying; or else he will give a lot of details about his career and we will tell him that it is a sign of (his) majority ... All the elements given by the child are turned against him and lead to rejections of arbitrary minority ! "
Human Rights Watch recalls that France has an obligation to protect all migrant minors and provide them with access to housing, education and health.
People helping migrants also targeted
HRW also denounces police harassment of humanitarian volunteers involved in the search and rescue operations of mountain migrants. " These are not associations in particular, it is really the people who carry out this work of assistance and relief in mountain and who undergo unjustified identity checks, who are pursued by justice or who will see their vehicle searched in an abusive way, continues Bénédicte Jeannerod .
Police practices deter such operations, which can be life-saving operations and oppose the latest decision of the Constitutional Council, which considers that assistance to migrants, even in an irregular situation, can not be criminalized or punished. as long as this aid is for a humanitarian purpose and does not benefit from any counterpart. "
Last year , the Constitutional Council devoted the constitutional value of the " principle of fraternity " in response to a request from several associations and individuals, including Cédric Herrou , a farmer who became the symbol of the defense of migrants in the Roya Valley ( Alpes Maritimes), one of the main crossing points for migrants arriving in Europe from Italy.