GENEVA (5 September 2016) – The UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families today expressed alarm about the plight of children, particularly the human rights violations that they face at all stages of migration, as it endorsed a set of principles to guide governments, NGOs and other stakeholders in actions concerning children on the move and other children affected by migration.
“Migrant children are, first and foremost, children, but the international community is failing them,” said Committee Chair José Brillantes. “The Recommended Principles* set out in simple terms that the best interests of a child should be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them. They also make it clear that detaining children because of their parents’ migration status constitutes a child rights violation.”
“The Principles, elaborated by key partners, including the UN Human Rights Office, are vital tools to help uphold international human right standards regarding children affected by migration.”
The 14-member Committee expressed hope that the Recommended Principles, which reflect international human rights norms including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, will be part of the discussions at the High-Level Meeting on Large Movement of Migrants and Refugees in New York on 19 September, and at the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Dhaka in December 2016.
The criminalization and stigmatization of children affected by migration violate the principle that children should be protected against all forms of discrimination.
“As the Principles state, no child is illegal,” Brillantes highlighted. Detention is never in the best interests of children and the Committee, which supports the Global Initiative to End the Immigration Detention of Children, calls upon States to end this practice.
The Committee called for policies regarding migration to be human rights and child rights-based, and is elaborating a general comment with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on children in the context of international migration, to guide States in this regard.
“There needs to be clear vision of the necessity of migrant labour in destination countries and more channels for regular migration. More possibilities for family reunification, and sustained attempts to address the root causes of irregular migration – violence, insecurity and lack of opportunity, are also required,” said Brillantes.
“Political leadership and commitment are needed now more than ever to ensure that migration policies put the human rights of all migrants, as human beings, at the forefront,” he stressed.
* The Recommended Principles were developed at an expert meeting in Geneva on 12 May 2016 that included participants from the UN Human Rights Office, the UN Refugee Agency, IOM, UNICEF, International Detention Coalition, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, International Catholic Migration Commission, Desination Unknown Campaign, Caritas, PICUM and Service Social International. The Principles can be accessed here:
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