Mainstreaming Child’s Rights in the EU Policy Area of Asylum and Migration Rebecca O’Donnell Euronet Seminar October 9, 2007
Mainstreaming Child Rights in Asylum and Migration • How should the core child rights under the UN CRC inform EU action in the field? • What has been achieved at EU level to date and what needs to happen next?
Key Themes • To date States have dealt with immigration issues first and child rights’ issues second • EU must change this, through the way in which the design of EU laws shape national laws • Diverse forms of EU action may be necessary • EU must foster solidarity between Member States to meet their international obligations
The Core UN CRC Rights • Non discrimination • Best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions in their regard • Children have the right to be heard • Children have the right to life and development Separated children are entitled to special protection and assistance
The significant impact of non-discrimination in relation to migration “ The enjoyment of the rights stipulated in the Convention is not limited to children who are citizens of a State party and must therefore, if not explicitly stated otherwise in the Convention, also be available to all children – including asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children, irrespective of their nationality, immigration status or statelessness” (CRC)
Pursuing the Best Interests of the Migrant Child in All Actions • “Non-rights bases arguments such as those relating to general migration control cannot override best interests considerations [as regards returns]” CRC • The crucial moments in the development of a child must be safeguarded whatever his immigration status
EU measures to date • Frequently establish minimum standards that are too general to provide meaningful protection to children • Member States sometimes have the discretion to opt in or out of certain standards • Starting point is the underlying migration or asylum policy rather than the rights of the child
An example of EU action • No obligation to exempt children from special asylum procedures (e.g. expedited border procedures) • No obligation to provide children with adequate information/legal representation • No detailed rules concerning child friendly procedures • No clear treatment of the views of the child
Strategic Issues • Putting in place higher detailed standards • Should there be a single EU measure for separated children, regardless of whether they are asylum seekers, economic migrants or trafficked persons • Regional Funding? • Better modes of regional cooperation, eg. broader opportunities for family reunification in other Member States?