The decree of 17 November 2016 that concerns not only the minors evicted from the Calais shantytown has now been published, whereas when the Home Office selected those who will be allowed to go to the United Kingdom the others are supposed to integrate the French common law system for the protection of childhood.

As a reminder, at the time of the eviction, people were deemed to be minors though a swift sorting which was outside of any legal framework – persons deemed to be over the age of majority were not notified of any decision they might have been able to contest, which means that minors (See here, here, here and there) without knowing if and how they would be able to assert their minority, and even more to have access to a process of family reunification with the United Kingdom to which they might possibly be entitled. Then these 1,900 people considered to be minors were sent to CAOMIs (MI for Isolated Minors – see here and there), where they were held outside the law pending the decision of the Home Office on their legal access to the United Kingdom.

It is likely that many of the minors who received a negative response from the Home Office will leave the CAOMI and disappear from the child protection radar. The system was organized so that a maximum of these minors remain off the radar and never have access to protection.

But it is possible that some of the people hitherto regarded as minors at the end of the sorting procedure which is outside any legal framework, remain in the CAOMI, and then something will have to be done. To begin with by re-sorting them, this time using the legal procedure of determination of the minority, before finally entrusting them to the services of the Social Welfare for Childhood, either of the department where the CAOMI is, or in another department. The decree of 17th November stipulates the conditions for the establishment of the minority.

The Arreté (order) makes no mention of bone tests to determine the minority. It is an intrusive, inaccurate and controversial method, especially from a scientific point of view. As the method is controversial, it is masked by a legal juggling. When you read “additional investigations as provided for in 2 ° and 3 ° of the II of the article R. 221-11 of the CASF”, 2 ° means to seize the prefecture to check if identity documents are not false (3) to refer the matter to the public prosecutor under Article 388 (2) of the Civil Code. And Article 388 paragraph 2 refers to bone tests. Which are systematically used by some of the departments where the CAOMIs are located to challenge the minority of people.

So the order talks about the social evaluation of the minority, which always looks cooler. The decree does not mention the criteria for assessing age, it only says that the president of the Conseil departmentale (county council) ensures that the people carrying out the evaluation have some training or experience enabling them to do so.

On the other hand, it details the steps of the interview:

I The civil status, is assessed through the declarations of the person and the documents he provides, by pointing out the doubts or inconsistencies, which will lead to “further investigations as provided for in 2 ° and 3 ° of II de l Article R. 221-11 of the CASF “(see above).

II Family ties, which can bring the person together with family members, or to establish that they are isolated and therefore to take the necessary protective measures.

III “The person assessed describes the geopolitical context of his or her region of origin” and “The evaluator takes into account the geopolitical evolution of the country of which he or she is a national, such as he or she may have objective knowledge resulting from the consultation Of the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Imagine a 16-year-old French person who may have spent several months or years on the road, and for whom is verified that he is French by comparing what he/she says about France with pages on the website of the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan or Argentina. A priori there will be strong discrepancies between the perception that a child has of his country and the geopolitical description which is made of it, which will cause to doubt that he really comes from this country. Other than that, it has nothing to do with the assessment of minority.

IV The migratory route of the person and the possible use of smugglers, which is interesting for the police but has nothing to do with the establishment of minority.

V The conditions of entry and stay in France, same remark.

VI Living conditions since arrival in France, idem.

In the end, few of these questions relate to assessment of minority or to family ties. It can be assumed that the service that recieves the child wants to know more about his / her situation and his or her life story, but it is after recognition of minority, not necessarily in the same department, and especially that workers will first try to create a relationship of trust that will allow them to know more about their story.

Some points correspond to the search for contradictions or inconsistencies in the declarations of the people, others are more related to the asylum application, some concern the police, one may question the motives and the skills of the people who wrote these interview guidelines.

One may be surprised at the presence of the Minister of the Interior among the signatories of the decree. It’s about child protection, you do not really see what he’s doing there.

The signature of the Minister of Justice has a history. Since these children are specifically considered as burdens for the departments that are responsible for them, a national redistribution has been put in place, and it has been necessary to find a ministerial leadership to manage the system. This was the Judicial Youth protection, which is attached to the Ministry of Justice, whose activity is linked to minors who have committed acts of delinquency or are in danger.


In a communiqué of 2 November 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considered in particular: “Failures in managing the situation of children in Calais are not isolated events but the result of a system of migration based on policies that have developed and have been implemented without taking into consideration the rights of the child “. “It is essential that steps be taken to ensure that these children have the support they need to recover from their experiences. Responsibility for violations of their rights should also be determined so that other children do not have to suffer a similar fate “.

https://www.un.org/apps/newsFr/storyF.asp?NewsID=38418&Kw1=migrants&Kw2=Calais&Kw3=experts

You can download the l’arrêter of 17 November 2016 here.

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