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The voice of the child: examining the criminalisation of unaccompanied migrant minors through detention processes in Greece

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

In times when migration flows are increasing considerably on a global level, Greece has become a focus as a key entry country into the European Union for significantly high numbers of asylum-seeking individuals, including unaccompanied migrant minors escaping unsafety and aiming for international protection. Currently, by Greek law, unaccompanied children are required to be temporarily placed in a protective environment upon unlawful entry into the country, pending referral to suitable accommodation. However, in practice, they are most commonly subjected to detention procedures that cannot be understood as being protective in line with the requirements of the national legal framework and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Greece is a signatory. This raises crucial questions in the field of children’s rights and migration policing. Specifically, the reality that unaccompanied minors experience during detention remains under-researched. Hence, this study will use Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in order to explore the lived experiences of unaccompanied children within detention facilities in Greece and to provide a rich in detail picture of the context that these minors are currently being subjected to. Towards understanding these conditions, voice will be given to participants, who will share their perspectives and emphasise the discrepancy between the law and practice. Based on the above, this study will be revealing unexplored issues as regards detention for unaccompanied children in Greece, which include hygiene concerns; matters concerning the general detention setting; lack of services and incidents of abusive treatment. The research analysis concludes that unaccompanied minors in Greece are criminalised through detention processes, while being deprived of the right to be heard. As a result, this study makes a meaningful and novel contribution to contemporary research with a view to safeguarding the fundamental rights of unaccompanied minors who experience detention upon arrival in Greece.
Original languageEnglish
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Award dateFeb 2020

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