fbpx

25 September 2020

National Council votes for ban on administrative detention of minors

None Administrative detention For children

We are very pleased that the National Council has adopted the professional initiative "Stop administrative detention for children". Many thanks to all National Councillors who voted for the bill! In doing so, the Grand Chamber underlines the Confederation's obligation to respect children's rights. The initiative of the Canton of Geneva calls on the legislature to ban so-called administrative detention in the deportation procedure for underage migrants. We have been campaigning for this for a long time.

It could hardly be more concise: after a tie of 95 for and 95 against, the National Council followed a motion for order and voted a second time on the Geneva Professional Ethics Initiative. Thanks to a narrow majority and several abstentions in the second vote, business "Stop Administrative detention for children!" now one step further. We would like to express our sincere thanks to the National Councillors who have used their votes to support children's rights in Switzerland.

We are also pleased with the result because the Commission that had consulted us before rejected the proposal. Nor had the Council of States, which first decided on the matter last year, given its approval. This is despite the fact that administrative detention for minors clearly violates child rights conventions.

Children take damage in prison

Switzerland places children in so-called administrative detention because migration law provisions are to be enforced against them or their parents. However, international provisions and rulings such as those of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stipulate that states must avoid this form of detention.

When children are in prison, a majority - around 85 percent - suffer irreversible psychological damage. Especially because the children are already in difficult life situations and vulnerable in their situation as migrants. That is why we demand a ban on Administrative detention for minors and instead solutions with non-custodial measures.

Only in this way can minors be treated as children and their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child be respected. They are entitled to this protection regardless of their migration status.

Global problem, Switzerland must set an example

Worldwide several million children in administrative detention. Children are also detained in the EU and in Switzerland. In 2016, 14 EU countries will have around 180 minors from the migration sector in administrative detention. There are no exact figures from Switzerland. However, the data indicate that in the years from 2015 to 2017, 83 children were in administrative detention and 35 children were briefly detained.

The National Council has now laid the first foundations for a nationwide ban on this practice. The matter will now go back to the Council of States. We demand that it revise its decision from last year and adopt the professional initiative. There is no reason to maintain administrative detention for minors, as the alternatives are not only more child-friendly but also cheaper and more efficient.

We stand by our demands internationally and in Switzerland:

  • Administrative detention for migrant children (accompanied or unaccompanied) must be abolished. It is never in the overriding interest of the child.
  • We demand more and more precise data on the administrative detention of minors. This is the only way to analyse the problem and take measures to remedy it.
  • Alternatives to administrative detention of minors must be defined and implemented.
  • In the interest of the child, parents of underage children must not be imprisoned on the basis of migration law provisions and families must not be separated as a result. We demand alternative measuresin order to the imprisonment of ...to prevent children.

Please read our position paper (PDF) and the Post "Stop administrative detention for children!"

Photo: terre des hommes switzerland / Annette Mokler

Please also read

Mateus Nascimento is a young farmer from Paraíba, Brazil.

The gold from the northeast of Brazil

Couscous is a food that is so present in northeastern Brazil that many Brazilians are unaware of its African origins. The food, made from corn flour, is an essential part of Brazilian food culture. One of the products that is trying to establish itself is the "Flocão da Paixão". But the battle for market share is fierce. At a quick glance through the shelves of a supermarket, couscous products may look the same. But appearances are deceptive. The so-called "commercial" seed dominates the food market. A bitter aftertaste: the associated use of agrotoxic substances and genetic modification are a threat to people and the environment. Mateus Nascimento,

Read more »
Young people in the crosshairs: In many places, repression and police violence are part of everyday life. Photo: José Ramiro Laínez Sorto

Civil society under pressure

When governments target non-governmental organizations, be it with bureaucratic hurdles, smear campaigns or even violence against activists, terre des hommes switzerland has to rethink its role as an international partner organization. Strengthening civil society has always been a cornerstone of our work. It is the partner organizations in our program countries that enable needs-based projects and can assess what is really needed with their profound contextual knowledge. A strong civil society is a basic prerequisite for sustainable development. As a critical counterpart to politics and at the same time as its co-designer, civil society organizations stand up for the rights of disadvantaged groups. In their role as an important link between the population and the

Read more »
Dzvinka Vovk, participant of the MePower project. Photo Timo Orubolo

Integration through leisure

War and destruction have driven them to flee. A journey full of uncertainty and without a destination. A journey that forced numerous Ukrainians to find a home in a foreign land. One of them is 17-year-old Dzvinka Vovk from Lviv. Together with her mother and little sister, she has been living in Switzerland since mid-March. Interview by Mira Agostinis, MePower project worker Dzvinka, you can speak German surprisingly well, how come? In Ukraine I attended the "Linguistic High School". This is a state school in Lviv. At this school German and English are compulsory subjects. What is your everyday life like in

Read more »
Scroll to Top