Campaign to end detention of minors

Human and refugee rights organisations here have launched a campaign against the detention of undocumented miners at the notorious Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Johannesburg.

This follows findings that large numbers of unaccompanied minors were detained in the cells and then deported, mostly to Zimbabwe, without safeguards to ensure legal oversight or consideration of their best interests.

It has been reported that between October and December 2011 South Africa deported 86 children between the ages of 2-17 years to Zimbabwe.

“South Africa’s attitude and treatment of foreign unaccompanied children is appalling. Despite many legal protections which are in place on how to treat foreign unaccompanied children, children in South Africa are routinely detained and deported without any special considerations for their protection and care,” said KaajalRamjathan-Keogh, spokesperson for Lawyers for Human Rights.

International Detention Coalition campaign co-ordinator, Jeroen Van Hove, said governments should not detain children just because they were fleeing abuse, war and poverty or did not have any papers. “Many of these children are unaccompanied minors who have lost their parents or are already traumatized and just want safety,” he added.

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