The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child expresses its deep concern at the current migration crisis in Europe, and underscores that the continued shocking images that ricochet around the world do not tell the full extent of the devastating, and at times irreversible, impact the crisis continues to have on the rights and well-being of the children involved.
Ahead of the extraordinary “Justice and Home Affairs” Council taking place on 14 September in Brussels, dedicated to the situation of migration outside and inside the European Union, the Committee urges EU Ministers to adopt a child rights-based approach when planning, discussing, and implementing the measures designed to strengthen the European response.
“All European states have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and have committed to ensuring rights to all children that come under their jurisdiction irrespective of their legal status, and without discrimination of any kind,” said the Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Mr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur. “The majority of these children have already experienced human rights violations before leaving their countries of origin, and subjecting them to yet more violations within European borders through laws and treatment that are contrary to their rights constitutes an additional serious violation of Convention obligations.”
A number of these obligations are particularly relevant to the current situation. “The right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration should serve as the underlying obligation upon which all migration laws, policies, and services in countries of origin, transit, and destination must hinge,” the Chairperson said. “In addition, the obligation to respect and protect the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence — physical or mental, intentional or non-intentional — needs to be upheld by all branches of Governments in all contexts, including migration,” Mr. Mezmur added, noting increasing visual evidence of police and other authorities acting in ways that may physically harm or traumatize migrant children.
The Convention obligations apply both in times of stability and crisis. And the Committee expects all Governments to fully commit to placing at the heart of their responses their legal obligations towards children in a migration situation.
“Since a response to the current migration crisis needs rights-based, serious, and collaborative efforts, the Committee stands ready to engage with all countries in Europe in their efforts to strengthen the protection of the rights of the child in their migration responses,” the Chairperson concluded.
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