Migrant minors deprived of their liberty, rising child poverty, too easy access to pornography on the Internet... The France must take "urgent measures" to better protect the youngest, said Friday, June 2, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In an evaluation report, the Geneva-based committee said it was "gravely concerned" about the situation of migrant or asylum-seeking children. The French government must "end the detention of children for immigration reasons, including in the waiting areas" of airports, where "conditions are not child-friendly," according to UN experts.
'Violence and ill-treatment'
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 stress. When these people are not recognized as minors, but challenge this decision, they should be given the "benefit of the doubt" and continue to benefit from youth protection services while their appeal is examined, say the experts. The rapporteurs also deplore the fact that many unaccompanied minors have only "limited access" to child protection facilities, "health and education, and accommodation".
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The France should also "reconsider" the specific regulations that apply to Mayotte in the field of the right of soil, and which limit the automatic accession to French nationality of children born on the island of foreign parents. Beyond the case of young migrants, the UN committee is concerned about the "excessively long" execution times of judicial decisions on the protection of vulnerable children, cases of "violence and ill-treatment against children placed in institutions", or the too frequent changes of foster families undergone by children in care. Another concern is the "increasing number of children" affected by poverty, particularly in single-parent families. The UN denounces the persistence of "slums" and situations of poor housing where children stay for a long time in "emergency" accommodation.
Regarding the sexual abuse of children perpetrated "on a large scale" within the Catholic Church, the committee deplores "the low number of convictions" pronounced, and is concerned about a possible "failure of the State to conduct an independent investigation" into this violence, beyond the conclusions of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, whose work it welcomes. In addition, the France must "block sites that offer pornographic content without verifying the age of users", in order to protect the youngest, say the authors.
Developed following a visit to Geneva by a delegation led by the Secretary of State for Children, Charlotte Caubel, the report highlights "many advances for the benefit of children's rights," argues Charlotte Caubel's entourage. However, the government is "well aware of the emergencies and the road that remains to be travelled," the same source added. In particular, the executive is expected to announce soon a new plan to combat violence against children, as well as a communication campaign on sexual violence, it was highlighted.