Today, in 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, we would like to acknowledge the contribution of this important instrument and the treaty body to protection of rights of children migrants.
30 years ago the Convention declared the guarantees for protection of rights of any child in the world. According to its provisions, all the children shall enjoy their rights provided in the Convention regardless of their or their parents’ or legal guardians’ migration status.
In 2017 the Committee on the Rights of the Child jointly with the Committee on protection of the rights of all working migrants adopted the essential two General Comments, in which it interpreted the provisions of the Convention in the context of international migration. According to the Committee, in all actions concerning children migrants, States should be guided by the overarching principles of non-discrimination (art. 2); the best interests of the child (art. 3); the right to life, survival and development (art. 6); and the right of the child to express his or her views in all matters affecting him or her, and to have those views taken into account (art. 12).
The Committee on the Rights of the Child have repeatedly affirmed that children should never be detained for reasons related to their or their parents’ migration status and States should expeditiously and completely eradicate the immigration detention of children, and forbid it by law.
The State shall treat all children migrants as individual rights holders, and not as a violators of the migration regime, and the children’s views shall be taken into account. The Committee reminded that States shall refrain from actions which could result in family separation and take positive measures to maintain the family unit. Moreover, all children in the context of international migration, irrespective of status, shall have full access to all levels and all aspects of education and to all aspects of health care
Today the awareness on children’s rights is raising in the world, and some governments put efforts to realize the provisions of the Convention and recommendations of the Committee regarding the children migrants. For example, a number of states prohibited the migration-related detention of children in legislation, others develop the alternatives to detention (in Norway the court based on the individual assessment decides the alternative measures for migrants as residence at fixed address, regular reports to authorities, surrender travel documents). Some states prohibit forced return of unaccompanied minors, providing only the possibility for voluntary return if it is in the best interests of child and the family consented to return. France prohibits even the voluntary return of unaccompanied minors. When a child could not be returned to country of origin, some governments provide temporary residence permits: in Germany the residence permit for 18 months could be issued based on humanitarian grounds, for education or work. After the several years of temporary residence, a minor could be issued permanent residency. The practices of support of children even after 18 is also regarded as progressive and innovative(in Latvia, for example, the delay in return could be provided when 18-years-old study or there are other humanitarian grounds).
We call on the governments to fulfill and ensure their obligations regarding all children under their jurisdiction. All children should enjoy all their rights irrelevant of their origin and status, and as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child – all children should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.