Persistent violations of children's rights

Violations of the rights of unaccompanied children arriving in Spanish territory, including: ill-treatment and disregard for their best interests; detention without access to a lawyer; poor conditions in reception centres; the fact that while the age of majority is 18, for the purposes of expulsion of unaccompanied migrants it is 16; and a lack of protection of their economic, social and cultural rights.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, September 2010) (

The Committee notes the measures taken by the State party, including creation of a registry of unaccompanied children in the Dirección General de la Policia (Real Decreto (RD) 2393/2004, de 30 de diciembre), as well as the protocol developed by the Observatory for Children concerning unaccompanied children. While noting that the repatriations of unaccompanied children have decreased in the last years, the Committee continues to be concerned about reports of:
  • Different methods used for determining the age of unaccompanied children which may vary from region to region, not necessarily taking into account issues such as nutritional customs which may influence the physical and psychological evolution of the child;
  • Ill-treatment of unaccompanied children by the police during forced or involuntary repatriations to the country of origin, where in some cases they are deported without the necessary guarantees (no access to a lawyer, no interpretation services, and not considering the best interests of the child, and without observance of the right of the child to be heard);
  • Unaccompanied children (particularly Moroccan) being handed to border authorities and not to the social services of the country of origin, noting they may be victims of abuse and detention by security forces and border authorities of the country of origin;
  • Failure of authorities to provide unaccompanied children with the temporary legal residency status to which they are entitled under law because of the delays of the Department of Social Welfare in applying for it; and
  • Substandard accommodation conditions and neglect in emergency centres in the Canary Islands, particularly in La Esperanza, on Tenerife Island and in Spanish enclaves, particularly Ceuta. (paragraph 59)


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