Will European Court of Human Rights ruling spell the end for child detention?


News Release: For Immediate Release

26 October 2009

Will European Court of Human Rights ruling spell the end for child detention?

An asylum-seeking family who were detained in Belgium has been awarded over £14,000 in damages after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that their detention was a violation of their human rights.

On Tuesday 19 January, Belgium was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg for the detention of a Chechen family of four children and their mother in a closed reception centre.


The ECtHR ruled that the detention of the children in this closed centre constitutes a violation of Article 3 of European Convention on Human Rights and awarded the applicants 17, 000 Euros damages (equivalent to £14,843).


The family’s lawyer, Alexis Deswaef, said that the ruling would mean an end to the detention of asylum-seeking families in Belgium, and called for a Europe-wide law to ban the detention of families.


“I think that with this decision of the European Court of Human Rights it is impossible for Belgium to continue to detain families in closed centres. This judgment is not the

beginning of the end of family detention in Belgium but the end itself.


“Belgium should use its EU Presidency to push for EU-wide legislation prohibiting the detention of families.”


A PDF of the full interview with Mr Deswaef can be read by following this link: http://www.ecre.org/files/Interview_Alexis_Deswaef_0.pdf



Gary Christie, Policy and Research Manager at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We welcome this decision by the European Court of Human Rights. While detention centres differ in all EU member states we would certainly back calls for a Europe-wide ban on the detention of asylum-seeking families.”


“Scottish Refugee Council firmly believes that children, families and other vulnerable groups, should not be detained for the purpose of immigration. Detention, even for a short period, is a traumatic experience for children, inhumane and has a serious impact on their physical and mental health, personal development and education.”



For more information contact Scottish Refugee Council media officers Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927/ 07734 030 763


Notes to Editors

This news was transmitted to us by ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles). ECRE is a pan-European network of 69 refugee-assisting non-governmental organisations, including Scottish Refugee Council,that promotes a humane and generous European asylum policy. For more details see www.ecre.org or contact the ECRE Media and Information officer, Ana Lopez Fontal, at afontal@ecre.org

Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland. We also provide specialist services in areas such as housing and welfare, women's issues, community development, the media and the arts.

We play a leading role in policy development and campaign on refugee issues to ensure that Scotland plays a full role in meeting the UK's legal and humanitarian obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees.