A Paris-born 6-year-old girl flying as an unaccompanied minor was held for three days by French airport police officers after they suspected her passport was fake. The child flew to Charles de Gaulle airport from Cameroon where her mother was waiting for her in the airport. However, upon arrival, the child was detained by officials for a possible fake ID. Police officers at the airport felt that the passport photo did not resemble the child, so they took her into custody. The child was held in a special police daycare for three days before finally making her way in front of a judge. After the child was able to point out her mother in the crowd and identify friends and classmates from a photo, the judge released the child and deemed it “all a mistake.”
The Daily Mail reports that the 6-year-old girl was flying as an unaccompanied minor from Cameroon to France with all proper forms of documentation when she was detained. The French police at the airport thought that the child’s passport photo was suspect and decided to detain the child. For three days, the girl was held in a French police daycare waiting for her moment in front of a judge. Finally, the child was taken into court where her mother was waiting.
However, the child’s lawyer, Sidonie Leoue, says that this type of detainment is unacceptable.
“The judge said it was all a mistake’ and ordered the girl’s release. It’s inadmissible that minors are held there like this, especially for a reason such as this.”
Despite the fact that the girl’s passport was valid and she was traveling legally, the Interior Ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henry Brandet, says that the process of identifying minors who have questionable passports is vital to ensure children are kept safe from trafficking and kidnapping.
“Verifying the identity of a child, establishing with certainty the link between the (child) and the person traveling with them or waiting for them at the airport, is about protecting the child against trafficking, kidnapping.”
Though it is unfortunate that the child was detained for three days, Brandet says that any child detained is kept in a facility maintained by Red Cross that is designed to make their stay as “calm as possible.”
Do you think that minors detained by airport officials should be able to use an alternative mode of identification the same day as detainment such as identifying individuals from photographs to avoid unnecessary holds?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Antoine Antoniol]