France and Morocco ink deal on child migrant returns
Paris and Rabat signed an agreement Monday on repatriating underage Moroccan migrants, the most complex of the measures demanded by European countries to deal with incoming migrants from the Maghreb region.
The agreement calls for "concrete tools" for taking care of unaccompanied minors from Morocco, French Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti announced, after meeting his Moroccan opposite number Mohamed Ben Abdelkader in Rabat.
The text has not been made public.
France wants to give magistrates tools "to take the measures best suited to the interests of these children, including return" to Morocco, Dupond-Moretti said.
Like other European countries, France has been stepping up efforts to expel irregular migrants.
Procedures for those under the age of 18 are complex due to protections given to minors, particularly under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Abdelkader said Monday's deal sets out "the judicial framework defining (the roles of) different entities" including judges, the prosecution and social workers in the care of minors.
Charity workers and authorities estimate that between 16,000 and 40,000 unregistered foreign minors are living in France.
They include several dozen camped out in a Paris public square. According to a Moroccan expert involved in their case, many suffer from drug addiction, "all efforts to look after them have failed and none of them want to go home."