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UNCRC echoes concerns on children in immigration and asylum system

In June this year, the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child published its fifth periodic report on children’s rights in the UK.

The report echoes the concerns of the Law Centre and Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People on the treatment of children in the asylum and immigration system.

In particular, the report notes:

  • the continued detention of minors as part of the asylum process
  • the lack of legal guardians for unaccompanied minors who are over 16 and have not been formally identified as victims of trafficking
  • restrictions on the right to family reunion
  • difficulties in accessing education and health care
  • risk of destitution
  • as part of the Immigration Act 2016, removal of entitlement to leaving care support for unaccompanied children in care if they have an irregular or unresolved immigration status,
  • also under Immigration Act 2016, new policy of ‘deport first, appeal later’, including in cases where deportation undermines family unity
  • children returned to country of origin without adequate safeguards
  • lack of reliable data on asylum seeking children, including those whose age is disputed.

The Committee's recommendations include:

  • establishing legal guardians for all unaccompanied minors,
  • appropriate age assessments, to be conducted only in cases of serious doubt
  • end to all immigration detention of children
  •  review policy on family reunion
  • ensure sufficient support and access to services for families and unaccompanied children
  • review the Immigration Act to ensure its compatibility with children’s rights
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