Detention of Minors in EU Return Procedures: Assessing the Extent to Which Polish Law Is Reflective of the EU Migration Regime and International Human Rights Standards
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The Return Directive allows for the detention of minors during removal proceedings, but only as a ‘last resort’, for ‘the shortest appropriate period of time’ and with the primary consideration of the ‘best interests of the child’. While the Directive attempted to provide some safeguards to minors, these are undermined throughout, as the enforcement of such provisions depends significantly on their incorporation into domestic law. I provide an overview of the EU detention policy, map the existing domestic law framework in light of the benchmarks set out by the Directive and human rights instruments, and argue that there is a lack of consistency in the case study of Poland. In doing so, I analyse the limitations to detaining minors in light of the human rights treaties, of the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, and of the role of the monitoring body – the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In discussing the different types of jurisprudence, I illustrate how different bodies speak with the same voice on the detention of minors. Based on these findings I attempt to contribute to the policy debate on how to reconcile and balance the implications of two policy objectives affecting irregular migrant children - the protection of minors and immigration enforcement. I identify detention policy aspects, for which the legislation should be further harmonised, and I develop models of good practices based on other Member States’ practices, thus providing a set of policy recommendations to the Polish legislator as to what fair and effective irregular migration governance might entail.
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