Child detention and deportation – two Luxembourgish cases

Two weeks ago, immediately after being alerted by members of Personne n’est illégal – Luxembourg and the Association de Soutien aux Travailleurs Immigrés, sections of the Luxembourgish press (, Le Quotidien, and even the front page of L’Essentiel) reported on the forced deportation of a young Moroccan man, by private jet, after having spent up to two years in the Findel detention centre.

Despite focusing more on the high cost of renting the private jet than on the rights of the person deported, the spike in local media attention with regard to the institutional mistreatment of migrants appears to mark a significant change from previous years.

Le vol de Xheniia et Eunika, article de Paola Cairo

Le vol de Xheniia et Eunika, article de Paola Cairo

During 2011, Italian freelance journalist and activist Paola Cairo, editor of Passaparola magazine, reported on a number of cases of detention and deportation of children at the hands of the Luxembourg authorities, which the local media failed to pick up. One of these cases concerns a Kosovan mother, named Xheniia, and her two-year-old daughter Eunika, who suffers from epileptic seizures. Upon their confinement to the Findel detention centre on 11th July 2012, Xheniia suffered a violent nervous breakdown, and was transferred to the St Zithe emergency clinic, escorted by a police officer. Meanwhile, her epileptic daughter Eunika was sent to hospital to undergo examinations. After having passed her medical exams at the pediatric clinic, Eunika was returned to the detention centre alone, separated from her mother until the following day, when they were deported by air to Pristina. A French version of Paola Cairo’s article on her encounter with Xheniia and Eunika (translated from the Italian by Remo Ceccarelli) can be read in Issue 1 of Le monde n’est pas rond, accompanied by an illustration by Canadian artist Karen Hibbard.

A second case concerns a family from Montenegro, consisting of a father, mother and five children, the youngest of whom suffers from quadriplegia. This family was deported on 8th August 2012, after having spent a year and a half in Luxembourg, and despite the fact that the children were enrolled in a local school, and that the youngest child was undergoing regular physical therapy to relieve the disability. Confined to the Findel detention centre on 6th August 2012, the family was informed the following day by the Administrative Court that the judge had rejected their appeal against the eviction notice. One of the arguments raised by the judge was that the child’s quadriplegia could also be treated in Montenegro (Ordonnance 31147). (Paola Cairo reports that, according to the Caritas office in Milan, the government of Montenegro adopted a strategy in 2008 to develop a social security scheme for the handicapped and their families, but as of last year still had not implemented it; Caritas recently opened a welcome day centre for the handicapped in the coastal city of Bar.) On the day of their deportation, volunteers in Luxembourg managed to obtain a wheelchair for the child at the last minute, but the family refused to take it with them to Montenegro. 

View from the Findel detention centre. Photo © Patrick Galbats

View from the Findel detention centre. Photo © Patrick Galbats

In addition to the children’s disabilities, another thing that these two cases have in common is that both deportations took place during the summer months, a period in which it is more difficult for NGOs to mobilise. It should be noted that, in both cases, Luxembourgish legislation was respected, as the children were kept in the detention centre for less than 72 hours. On the other hand, it appears that international instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Article 3 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding respect for the best interests of the child, are far from having been met.


About antoinecassar

Poet, translator, editor, activist
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