Legal representation of unaccompanied children


Country Report: Legal representation of unaccompanied children Last updated: 08/06/23


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Under Greek law, any authority detecting the entry of an unaccompanied or separated child into the Greek territory shall take the appropriate measures to inform the closest Public Prosecutor’s office and the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors.[1] According to IPA, before the amendment by L.4756/2020,[2] the General Directorate of Social Solidarity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was responsible for further initiating and monitoring the procedure of appointing a guardian to the child and ensuring that his or her best interests are met at all times[3]. However, since the entry into force of L.4756/2020, the responsible authority for the procedure of guardianship of unaccompanied children was the Directorate for the Protection of the Child and the Family of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in collaboration with the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) or other authorities.[4]

On 22 July 2022, L 4960/2022 on the National Guardianship System and Framework of Accommodation of UAMs[5] entered into force replacing former law L 4554/2018 on guardianship, which was never implemented in practice. New provisions on guardianship and accommodation were inserted in the third part of the Asylum Code regarding Reception (provisions on guardianship were incorporated in Chapter C / Part 3 in Articles 66A-66ΚΔ and provisions on accommodation in Chapter D / Part 3 in Articles 66ΚΕ–66ΛΔ). Under the new legislative provisions on guardianship, general competency was passed from the National Centre for Social Solidarity of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to the Special Secretary for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors (SSPUAM).

Under the new law, the provision of guardianship is relegated to a list of legal entities appointed by the Prosecutor (i.e., public entities, NGOs, international organisations) who collaborate with persons acting as guardians. The Prosecutor can also appoint a child’s family member or friend to be responsible for their everyday care. However, Ministerial Decisions are yet to be issued for the full implementation of the new law. Currently, until the relevant Ministerial Decisions are issued, the former guardianship law is still in force regarding the Public Prosecutor acting as temporary guardian for unaccompanied children.

In May 2019, the European Committee on Social Rights of the Council of Europe adopted its Decision on Immediate Measures following a collective complaint lodged by ECRE and ICJ, with the support of GCR, and indicated to the Greek Authorities, inter alia, to immediately appoint effective guardians.[6] The Greek Authorities had still not complied with this Decision by the end of February 2022.

The fact that the public sector is severely untrained and understaffed hinders the situation even more. Assigning the additional task of guardianship to prosecutors has proved to be particularly disastrous over the years, especially given the number of prosecutors and their workload as prosecuting authorities.[7]

Several civil society organisations have mentioned that “Unaccompanied children are not immediately appointed a guardian for the purposes of reception and identification procedures. However, at different times in recent years, on the basis of a general authorisation of guardians coordinated by METAdrasi by public prosecutors, unaccompanied children on Lesvos, Chios, Leros and Kos have been able to be accompanied by guardians during the aforementioned procedure before Frontex. The presence of guardians has had visible impact on the transparency of the registration of the individuals’ personal details, including declared age”.[8]

The total number of applications for international protection lodged by unaccompanied minors before the Asylum Service in 2022 is not available.

On 6 April 2021, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum and UNHCR, in collaboration with IOM and the NGOs Arsis, METAdrasi and the Network for Children’s Rights, launched a mechanism to rapidly identify unaccompanied children who are homeless or live in insecure conditions and transfer them to safe accommodation. The mechanism includes a 24/7 telephone hotline for identifying and tracing children in need, available in six languages.[9] According to GCR’s observations, the new mechanism is very responsive to requests addressed both by NGO’s and by UAMs themselves.




[1]  Article 64(1) of the Asylum Code as amended by article 4 L.4960/2022.

[2] L. 4756/2020, Gov. Gazette A’ 235/26-11-2020.

[3] See Article 32(1) & (2) IPA and Article 60(3) IPA (before the entry into force of L.4686/2020), article 60(4) IPA (after the entry into force of L. 4686/2020).

[4]   Articles 13 and 14 L.4756/2020 amending respectively articles 32 and 60 IPA.

[5] L 4960/2022 National Guardianship System and Framework of Accommodation of UAMs and other provisions under the jurisdiction of the MoMA.

[6]  European Committee on Social Rights, Decision on admissibility and on immediate measures, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) v. Greece, Complaint No. 173/2018, 23 May 2019.

[7] Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Children Cast Adrift: Exclusion and exploitation of unaccompanied minors (UAMs) in Greece (2019), available at:

[8]  RSA and other civil society organisations, as above, 24.

[9]  MoMA, 6 April 2021, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation