The Keeping Children Safe 2020 Summit
Join me at the #KCS2020summit for the latest news, workshops and research about child safeguarding!
Assurer la conformité des Etats aux exigences du droit international applicables aux enfants et aux jeunes. Kids Empowerment aims at the full realization of the development and potential of children and youth by full compliance with international law related to children and youth (0-25 year old).
best practices, and most particularly the principles of the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols. To carry out its activities, the organization relies on the expertise and knowledge of professionals in the area of child rights – educators, social workers, lawyers, public administration specialists and others.
Mission: KIDS EMPOWERMENT, AIDE À L’ENFANCE a pour objet d’assurer la conformité des Etats aux exigences du droit international applicables aux enfants et aux jeunes, notamment à la Convention Internationale des Droits de l’Enfant et ses protocoles facultatifs. L’association intervient en mettant en valeur la participation et l’empowerment des enfants et des jeunes, âgés de 0 à 25 ans, sur la base de connaissances solides de leurs droits.
The Keeping Children Safe 2020 Summit
Join me at the #KCS2020summit for the latest news, workshops and research about child safeguarding!
"Terrible images, a terrible reality" meant that "we must show solidarity with Greece and also live up to European values." - Emmanuel Macron
The fire at Moria Refugee Camp on the Greek Island of Lesvos left thousands sleeping on the side of the road. In response, Macron and Merkel agreed to a deal on September 10th allowing 400 unaccompanied minors to move at the request of the Greek government to other parts of the European Union. Ms Merkel has already agreed to take some of the children. The Netherlands also agreed to accept 100 unaccompanied minors and families with children from the camp. Ms Merkel has called for the development of a better EU migration policy.
To learn more about the fire and reactions from other communities, click on the following link:
Berlin and Paris said they plan to move 400 minors from the Greek migrant camp destroyed in a blaze. Angela Merkel said she hoped other EU nations would assume a "shared responsibility" and accept some of the minors.
A glance at the situation of unaccompanied minors in the Americas:
The current unrest in the United States centered around the Covid-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice has in part drawn attention away from the dire situation of unaccompanied minors in and around the southern border.
On March 20th, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order to send away all asylum seeking individuals at the border without valid documents. This order operates outside the normal asylum procedure and provides no opportunity for hearings or the assertion of claims. In essence, the medical quarantine authorization overrides the protections of immigration and refugee laws by implementing an unreviewable Border Patrol health expulsion mechanism, which is unrelated to identifying infected individuals.
Since the implementation of this expulsion policy, migrant minors have been turned away in large numbers. In May, of the 1,001 arrests of unaccompanied minors at the border, just 39 were referred to the office of refugee resettlement and avoided expulsion. Although the Refugee Agency has the capacity to care for 13,000 migrant children, there are just 975 in their custody. Since 2008, a bi-partisan anti-trafficking law has protected most non-Mexican minors from immediate deportation and directed them to the Refugee Agency. As long as Trump’s expulsion order is in place, this program is out of service.
To learn more follow the links below:
The situation of unaccompanied minors and migrant children at the US/Mexico border:
An explanation of Trump’s Expulsion Order: https://law.stanford.edu/2020/04/15/coronavirus-border-expulsions-cdcs-assault-on-asylum-seekers-and-unaccompanied-minors/
Every minute, 20 people leave their livelihoods behind them in order to evade war, persecution and violence. Today, Saturday June 20th, marks World Refugee Day, an occasion to celebrate the courage and resilience of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, of which nearly 26 million are children. In the EU alone, as of 2018, there were 20,000 unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Many child refugees are unaccompanied, are discriminated against when attempting to access education, healthcare and protective services, or are seen and treated as adults.
This day of celebration comes at a particularly trying moment in our social and political history. Nationalism and xenophobia pose a serious threat to the rights of forcibly displaced people. It is our job to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers of all ages, genders and creeds and to advocate for their rights and humanity.
To find out more about refugees and the legal frameworks which define their rights, check out the links below:
UNHCR - Figures at a Glance: https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html
1951 Refugee Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees: https://www.unhcr.org/5d9ed32b4
1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees: https://www.unhcr.org/5d9ed66a4
International and regional legal frameworks oblige all States to fulfill every child’s right to acquire a nationality and respect their best interest as a primary consideration. In spite of the myriad of conventions covering the issue, approximately only half of the European countries have safeguards which prevent children from growing up stateless. A birth certificate opens the door to acquiring a nationality and all the added benefits, such as access to education, healthcare and protective services.
Unfortunately, there are many instances where children are deprived of this right. In Europe in 2017, 2000 children registered as stateless applied for asylum. Undocumented and or underdocumented children in irregular and migratory situations are at risk of being stateless due to a lack of standardized, child rights-based procedures designed to identify and protect stateless people.
The Initiative for Children in Migration published a brief and in depth examination of the issue of stateless children in Europe, giving the reader an overview of the regional and international legal frameworks, the role of institutions, the affected populations, the barriers to obtaining nationality and key actions that States and regional institutions can take.
The report is available here:
Today, the whole world is experiencing the difficulties of isolation and economic instability. Especially vulnerable sectors of our society, namely migrant children, are at risk. KIDS EMPOWERMENT would like to draw attention to the current situation of minor migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A migrant minor is any person under the age of 18 who moves to a state of which he is neither a citizen nor a resident. In recent years, more and more minors have migrated alone. UNICEF estimated that in 2011 18% (5.9 million) of the migrant population was under the age of 20.
Migrant children, and particularly unaccompanied minors, due to their vulnerability, constitute a current and sizable challenge to the human rights protection regime. Minor migrants majoritarily come from Senegal, Guinea and Morocco. They come for many reasons: they may be victims of trafficking, sent by their families, seeking a better life, or fleeing a situation of violence in their household or their country. Some will benefit from family reunification, others will benefit from state child protection, others will not even be recognized as minors because they will have failed to provide proper identification.
According to Eurostat in 2017, there were between 8,000 and 10,000 unaccompanied migrant children in France. Due to instability in the world, this percentage is growing. The question of the protection of migrants, and in particular that of minors, is worrying in view of the situation regarding COVID-19 and European policies which aim to expand and amplify border surveillance in order to discourage migration. This policy exposes migrants to more risks. Thus, their number in Europe will continue to increase and will raise the question of a legal framework which governs their entry and presence, and guarantees their rights.
Upon arrival, unaccompanied migrant children lack access to key public information. Unaccompanied migrant children need to access information on family reunification, state child protection and asylum procedures in a timely manner. Most of these children, even the ones under state protection, will be deprived of official legal representation until they reach adulthood. This has serious consequences. Notably, their best interest is seldom taken into consideration for decisions affecting them. It is essential for these children to know their rights and have their voices heard. It is therefore essential to have a tool explaining French bureaucracy in a language which is accessible to them. This tool will enable them to have access to and exercise their fundamental rights.
Our NGO is developing an app, EmpowerMIE, which aims to provide these minors with all the necessary information about the asylum- seeking process and child care system in France, and family reunification process in a third European country. You can contribute to this project in donating to KE via https://www.helloasso.com/associations/kids-empowerment-aide-a-l-enfance/formulaires/1/en
In the United States and around the world, young voices are taking a stand against racial violence, discrimiation, and prejudice. In light of the widespread repression of peaceful protests, it is important to recall Article 15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
“States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
This right is most relevant in the current context as many minors are acting as defenders of human rights.
We are now in the process of emerging from possibly the first of many lockdowns. Now, it is the time to reflect on how the Covid-19 pandemic affected the welfare of unaccompanied minors in France. The services and protections available to this vulnerable population before the pandemic were already poor. Before the crisis hit, Medecins du Monde arrived at the following conclusions:
- Certain departments are violating the law by refusing to provide provisional emergency reception to those who seek protection.
- Other departments stop providing care after questioning their minority.
- The provisional placement orders made by juvenile judges are not always enforced.
- Children and adolescents whose minority was disputed before the crisis must survive in the streets, camps or squats and are exposed to many dangers.
The pandemic and ensuing lockdown imposed even more constraints, in effect worsening these conditions. Last month, Médecins du Monde wrote an open letter to the French government drawing attention to among many other concerns, a lack of access to food, hygiene, water, and healthcare. Unaccompanied minors already have fragile physical and mental health. Thus, this vulnerable population requires access to services that maintain their physical and mental health, and administrative services that facilitate their integration into protection systems.
Follow this link to read the full letter: https://www.medecinsdumonde.org/fr/actualites/tribunes/2020/04/06/lettre-ouverte-assurer-la-protection-de-tous-les-mineurs-non-accompagnes-dans-le-contexte-de
As of February 29th, 5,463 children in Greece are in urgent need of assistance. 1,752 of them live in overcrowded reception and identification centers. The month of April saw the relocation of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Greece to Luxembourg and Germany. These transfers mark the beginning of an EU initiative to relocate 1,600 unaccompanied children in which ten member States have pledged to participate. Children transferred under this initiative would receive expedited processing and be placed in a country where they will secure refugee status or a complementary protection. This scheme reduces the burden on the Greek authorities and encourages them to pursue durable solutions for all refugees and asylum-seekers.
Ms. Afshan Khan, the UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe, commented, “This action is critical, because children identified for relocation are the most vulnerable and most in need of protection. It is also a tangible way to support the ongoing efforts of Greek authorities to look after the thousands of refugee and migrant children who will remain under their care.”
The relocation principles listed below take into account the volume of cases and the urgent needs of the minors, and are firmly rooted within the international child rights legal framework.
The best interests of the Child should be the guiding principle
Prioritization for relocation should be done based on established vulnerability criteria taking an individualized approach.
Do no harm.
Children should be consulted on the decision and involved in the process of decision making where it is in their best interests.
Children eligible for family reunification under the Dublin III Regulation, should be supported accordingly.
Action should be coordinated.
Follow this link to access the full report:https://eea.iom.int/sites/default/files/publication/document/Minimum-Child-Protection-Standards-Identification-Unaccompanied-Separated-Children.pdf
Still want to find out more? Click on the link below:
February 6th is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM is an act which has reiceved international condemnation. FGM involves the partial or total removal of the extirior of the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. In addition to being a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women, the procedure inflicts extreme pain and causes medical complications later in life. The WHO estimates that more than 200 million girls in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have fallen victim to this procedure, most under the age of 15. The treatment of the complications resulting from this procedure amounts to approximately 1.4 billion USD per year. UNICEF estimates that 27.2 million women have been cut in Egypt.
Regarding FGM, the CEDAW General Recommendation No.14: Female Circumcision proposes the introduction of appropriate training programs which influence attitudes on FGM, as well as the inclusion women’s organizations in advocacy and education. In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that the deportation of a girl to Somalia where she “would face an alleged risk of being forcefully subjected to female genital mutilation” is a violation of the prohibition of discrimination, best interests of the child and the protection of the child against all forms of violence or ill treatment. France grants asylum to girls and women who are at risk of undergoing FGM.
This month, on the 3rd of February, an Egyptian doctor was arrested for conducting the procedure on a 12 year old girl, who died shortly after having bled to death. Her mother and aunt were present during the procedure. The doctor, mother and aunt have all been arrested. The procedure in Egypt is a means of proving sexual purity.
In 2008, Egypt enacted a ban on the practice. New laws banning the practice were passed in 2016. In 2013, a three month sentence was handed down to a doctor who performed FGM, marking a watershed moment for Egyptian law makers. However, Reda Al Danbouki, a lawyer and human rights campaigner against FGM complains that, “FGM continues to occur because there is no desire from the political leadership to stop it.” In order to stop the practice completely, the culture, the politicians, and law enforcement need to see FGM as a crime. Until this happens, change is not imminent.
Want to learn more? Follow the links below:
Guardian Article: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/03/fgm-doctor-arrested-in-egypt-after-girl-12-bleeds-to-death
WHO Factsheet on FGM: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation
CEDAW General Recommendation No.14: Female Circumcision:
Committee on the Rights of the Child on FGM:
Child had been taken by her family to have the procedure, still prevalent in the country despite new laws to combat it
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A refugee, defined by Article 1(A)(1) of the 1951 Convention on Refugees, is any person who “owing to well- founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.” The 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees expanded the temporal and geographic scope of the 1951 Convention, thus protecting more individuals seeking protection internationally. However, this development doesn’t change the restrictive nature of the above mentioned definition.
On the 21st of January 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Committee determined that countries cannot deport individuals seeking asylum on account of threats posed by climate change. Mr. Teitota, a citizen of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, migrated to New Zealand, allegeding that his right to life had been violated as a result of the consequences of climate change. This includes rising sea levels, salt water intrusion, the erosion of arable lands, and a lack of fresh water. The deterioration of quality of life has led to outbreaks of violence between residents resulting in numerous fatalities.
The UN ruling is nuanced. The Committee stated that while Mr. Teitota’s right to life hadn’t been violated because of the protection measures available to him at the national level, individuals seeking asylum for climate related reasons aren’t required to provide evidence of an immediate threat to their life if deported. The rationale behind this decision is that climate change imposes a slow process of environmental degradation as well as abrupt destructive climatic events. Both situations provide a strong impetus for individuals to move.
This is the official UN statement: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25482&LangID=E
For more information on this story, follow this link:
For more information on the climate crisis in the Pacific islands, follow this link:
GENEVA (21 January 2020) – In its first ruling on a complaint by an individual seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the UN Human Rights Committee* has stated that countries may not deport individuals who face climate change-induced conditions that violate the right to life.
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