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Labour exploitation of undocumented migrant children in Europe

“Undocumented migrant children are triply vulnerable, as migrants, as persons in an undocumented situation, and as children. A child should not be discriminated against because of his or her status. A child is first, foremost and only, a child. The issue of migratory status can only ever be a secondary consideration,” Pedro Agramunt (Spain, EPP/CD) said today when presenting his report on undocumented migrant children in an irregular situation at a meeting of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population in Paris.

In a draft recommendation adopted today, the committee highlighted five areas where the rights of these children need to be clarified and strengthened: education, health care, housing, detention and exploitation. According to Mr Agramunt the issue of child exploitation is particularly problematic.

His report underlines that in view of the precarity of undocumented migrant children, there is a risk that a number of them end up begging, pickpocketing and being used to carry out illegal work or being sexually exploited.

According to the committee, there is wide discrepancy across Europe in how member states of the Council of Europe treat these children, both in terms of law and practice. The draft recommendation accordingly invites them to review their legislation and practice to ensure that these children enjoy the rights and protection afforded to them under international law. The report will be debated by PACE during its October session in Strasbourg.