In recent times, Greece is often viewed as the gateway to Europe for high numbers of asylum-seeking individuals, including unaccompanied minors. Between 2016 and 2020, under Greek law unaccompanied children were to be temporarily placed in a protective environment upon irregular entry, pending referral to suitable accommodation. However, in practice, they were being subjected to detention procedures instead.
Giving voice to migrant children and professionals throughout, the author combines legal analysis with criminology and unveils the reality within detention facilities. The findings demonstrate that unaccompanied children in Greece are criminalised through detention processes, while being deprived of the right to be heard.
This book promotes child-friendly practices in the international migration context, with a view to safeguarding the fundamental rights of unaccompanied minors experiencing detention upon arrival in host countries.
This chapter introduces the reader to the study’s theoretical background and proceeds to elaborating upon the set research aims. Hence, this project will first look into the procedural steps that succeeded the irregular entry of unaccompanied children into Greece between the years 2016 and 2020 and examine the processes that they were subjected to. The analysis will then move on to assessing how this study will bring to the surface the reality from within detention facilities for unaccompanied children and focus on whether detention processes place them in the context of crimmigration. Emphasis is gradually added on the study’s aim to explore whether the right to be heard is applied correctly in the minors’ favour during detention. Thus, the applied methodology and core characteristics of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis are discussed. The second part of the chapter is a summary of the book’s structure, coupled with details concerning each chapter’s respective context.
This chapter’s starting point is the issue of safeguarding the rights of children on an international level. Initially, the forming process of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is presented, coupled with information concerning its legal scope and core provisions. To this end, the ‘best interests of the child’ principle is elaborated upon and focus is placed on the right of children to be heard in all judicial and administrative proceedings that affect them, with special emphasis added to the case of detained unaccompanied children. Following the latter, the study’s research approach is discussed. By presenting the main principles and aims of phenomenology, a demonstration occurs concerning the different theoretical schools of phenomenological research, thus concluding how Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was preferred over other qualitative methods as the ideal approach for conducting interviews with unaccompanied children and practitioners in the migration context and addressing the research aims.
This chapter explores detention as it currently applies in the case of unaccompanied children in Greece. Starting with a definition of the term ‘unaccompanied minor’, issues concerning the vulnerability of this population are brought to the table, followed by a discussion on guardianship procedures according to the national policy. The status of unaccompanied children in Greece is hereby portrayed in detail, followed by a presentation with respect to the framework that regulates the issue of irregular entry into the country. Thus, an in-depth review of the applicable law occurs and the pathway that asylum-seeking individuals follow upon arrival is demonstrated, coupled with a presentation of the reception and identification procedures that apply. Subsequently, a thorough analysis of the Greek legislation on protective custody and detention processes is performed, coupled with a description of the context and the services which should be available in case unaccompanied children are subjected to detention.
This chapter discusses the current gaps in contemporary research, as well as how this study will be a novel contribution to knowledge. Initially, the theoretical underpinnings of the crimmigration debate are emphasised and focus is placed on the need to examine whether detention processes for unaccompanied children in Greece place them within the context of crimmigration. The second part looks into the right of detained unaccompanied children to express themselves openly with respect to the matters that affect them, including judicial and administrative proceedings. Therefore, the centre of attention is the correct application of Art. 12 CRC. Thus, references will be made to the literature and the researcher’s role in assisting unaccompanied children towards describing their experiences will be highlighted, along with the difficulties which are involved in the process, followed by a presentation and analysis of the ‘vicious circle of UAM detention’, as originally introduced by the author.
This chapter includes practical details concerning the study’s recruitment strategy and data collection process, and comprehensive information is provided on how Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is applied in each interview stage respectively. First, an in-depth review occurs concerning the author’s steps towards successfully overcoming the involved difficulties and eventually building trust with unaccompanied children before progressing to holding interviews. The same analysis takes place with respect to the followed process during the second and third interview stage, where practitioners participated individually and in the form of a focus group. Before proceeding to the third stage, the relation between Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and focus groups is emphasised and the difference of opinion among scholars on the subject is demonstrated. Hence, the author’s methodology throughout all interview stages is presented in detail, coupled with information regarding the participants’ background and the questions that were addressed to them in the context of the discussion.
This chapter is structured in four consecutive parts, according to the formed superordinate discussion topics that emerged during the analysis of the interview results. More specifically, after completing the interviewing process, the participants’ responses to the research questions were organised into groups based on similarities among them, according to the guidelines of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. This allowed for specific discussion topics to be identified, which were then clustered into higher-order and sub-themes. In detail, the superordinate discussion topics include issues on hygiene matters; the overall context of detention; the complete lack of services in favour of detained unaccompanied children; and the abusive treatment that minors endured in detention. Each theme is presented and discussed thoroughly, followed by concise quotes made by the participants. As a result, the study’s key findings are illustrated in a comprehensive and analytical style, coupled with the author’s input with respect to each individual theme respectively.
This chapter is based on the participants’ ultimate reflections which were shared at the end of each interview session. Initially, the professionals’ insights are presented regarding the use of detention processes for unaccompanied children in Greece. In addition, the role of non-governmental organisations in safeguarding the rights of migrant children is emphasised, followed by the participants’ understanding on whether professionals of the humanitarian sector can assist towards the same direction. As the analysis progresses, the importance of correctly applying the right to be heard in favour of detained unaccompanied children is discussed. The second part is structured around the participants’ input as regards the changes that they would implement to the context of detention, followed by suggestions on alternative measures, thus allowing for a phenomenological review of their statements to take place and for the author to demonstrate how the voice of participants allowed for awareness to be gained.
This chapter addresses the project’s research conclusions. Hence, the positionality of detained unaccompanied children in Greece within the context of crimmigration is initially assessed. Moreover, a conclusion is reached on whether the national framework views detention for unaccompanied children as an administrative process and consequently if the right to be heard was applied correctly in the minors’ favour at the time. The author’s final remarks regarding the research findings follow, with emphasis placed on safeguarding the vulnerable status of unaccompanied children throughout reception proceedings. Conclusively, a concise presentation of the recent advancements in the Greek law regarding migration-related issues succeeds with added focus on whether the context of detention for unaccompanied children was in any way improved. The latter is followed by the author’s concluding comments about this project’s contribution to knowledge, coupled with recommendations on how this study’s findings and methodology can be used as the basis for future research.