National Network for Children sent a signal to Boyko Rashkov, Minister of Internal Affairs, and to all responsible persons and institutions, regarding received data on the unlawful application of a measure of remand detention in pre-trial proceedings against unaccompanied minor refugees.
The Ruse District Prosecutor’s Office opened a prosecutor’s file on the report.
We are deeply disturbed by the report received by our member about the case of a 15-year-old refugee child AA from the Syrian Arab Republic, who was imposed this measure and spent a month in detention in the city of Ruse.
The child was detained while crossing the Bulgarian-Romanian border on May 28 this year and was detained in the Ruse detention center initially for 24 hours, after which a permanent restraining order was imposed on him.
After court proceedings, on June 29, it was directed to a social service in the city of Ruse. The child testified that during his stay in detention he was accommodated and had contact with adult persons detained for criminal acts, under extremely poor conditions. He was given unsuitable food and kept locked up, with no way to go outside. The child was bitten by insects, and when visiting the social service, he was referred to a pediatric ward in Ruse, where the medical staff diagnosed a severe rash after an insect bite and prescribed emergency treatment. All this testifies to a violation of the special provisions of Chapter XXX of the Code of Civil Procedure and Art. 3, para. 1 and para. 2 of the Law on Execution of Sentences and Detention in Custody (placing in unfavorable conditions for serving detention in custody).
On July 5, during a meeting with the Department of Child Protection, the translator from Syria informed our colleagues that three other 15-year-old children – unaccompanied refugees – are currently in custody in the city of Ruse. The translator explained that the imposition of this measure since one year has become a common practice in a number of pre-trial proceedings (although, according to paragraph 2 of Article 386 of the Criminal Code, the measure of involuntary detention in relation to minors should be takes only in the hypothesis of the so-called “exceptional case”).
National Network for Children is contacting the responsible persons and institutions with a request for a thorough inspection and to ensure urgent institutional intervention to protect the rights of minor refugees and prevent subsequent similar cases in the city of Ruse.
We emphasize once again that all unaccompanied refugee children are first and foremost children and as such need protection, support and family. The practice in the Ruse detention center is only part of the ongoing systematic violations of the rights of unaccompanied children, which have been established more than once.
Once again, we emphasize the need to carefully monitor the implementation of the Coordination Mechanism for interaction between institutions and organizations in cases of unaccompanied children or foreign children separated from their families. We remind you that the Child Protection Act must be applied as a matter of priority in relation to unaccompanied children.
All children without a parent or other adult responsible for them should be handed over to the Social Assistance Directorate and protective measures should be applied to them under Art. 4 of the Child Protection Act, namely, when the possibilities for accommodation with relatives and friends are exhausted, priority accommodation in a foster family and, exceptionally, accommodation in a social service for residential care. It is categorically unacceptable to keep children in custody together with adults with a criminal past and to violate their basic rights of access to healthcare, education and justice.