UN CRC calls on Belarus to protect the rights of migrant children

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) published recommendations to the Republic of Belarus following the consideration of the state report on compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

During the pre-session of the CRC in July 2019, Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” presented an alternative report on the issue of immigration detention of children at the detention centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus and their further repartiation to their countries of permanent residence. Foreign children and children, who are citizens of Belarus and who are returning from other countries, are being detained based solely on their migration status, without access to education, which contradicts modern standards of children’s rights.

Referring to joint general comments No. 3 and 4 (2017) of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (No. 22 and No. 23 (2017) of the Committee on the Rights of the Child) within the context of international migration, the Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Belarus to prohibit immigration detention of children and ensure non-custodial solutions, including foster care and accommodation in specialised open reception centres serviced by trained professionals with access to education and psychosocial support; and ensure the periodic and independent review of the care and access to complaint procedures.

The Committee urged that Belarus also adopt other measures to improve the situation of migrant children, in particular:

  • (a) to develop a legislative framework on undocumented children;
  • (b) to establish status determination procedures to ensure the identification and protection of migrant children, including unaccompanied children and separated children and their protection;
  • (c) to develop a uniform protocol on age-determination methods that is multidisciplinary, scientifically-based, respectful of children’s rights and used only in cases of serious doubt about the claimed age and consider documentary or other forms of evidence available, and ensure access to effective appeal mechanisms;
  • (d) to integrate the principle of the best interests of the child in legislation and regulations concerning migration; ensure that it is given primary consideration in asylum and migration-related procedures, including age and status determination and deportation, and that children’s views are duly taken into account therein; and provide support to families with migration background to prevent family separation;
  • (e) to build the capacity of the authorities to determine and apply the best interests of the child in asylum and migration-related procedures;
  • (f) to ensure that all migrant children, including undocumented and separated children, receive appropriate protection, are informed about their rights in a language they understand, have access to education and healthcare, including psychosocial support, and are provided with interpretation and free legal aid; and develop comprehensive referral, case management and guardianship frameworks for unaccompanied and separated children.

The Committee also published its recommendations on issues raised in the report prepared by the International Centre for Civic Initiatives “Nash Dom” (“Our House”, Belarus), which has been supported by ADC “Memorial”.

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