(By "unaccompanied migrant children", the Committee wishes to be understood both unaccompanied and separated children, as defined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. See paragraphs 7 and 8 of the UN Committee's General Comment Number 6 (2005): http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G05/438/05/PDF/G0543805.pdf?OpenElement)
Written evidence is sought by Friday 26 October. It is expected that public hearings will be held in November and December. The Committee aims to report to both Houses, with recommendations, no later than Easter 2013.
Scope of the inquiry
The Committee seeks evidence on any aspect of this topic, but in particular in relation to the questions set out below:
- Is the treatment of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK consistent with the UK's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)?
- To what extent is the statutory duty in section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, and its accompanying guidance, proving effective in ensuring that in practice public bodies have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children?
- Should one department in Government have overall responsibility for unaccompanied migrant children and young people in order to ensure that their rights are best promoted and protected? If so, which one?
- Are Government departments and their agencies satisfactorily 'joined-up' in how they protect and support unaccompanied migrant children and young people?
- Will the proposed reforms to the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England benefit unaccompanied migrant children and young people or is there more that could be done to ensure that the institutional machinery protects this particular vulnerable group?
- Is there sufficient awareness and relevant training on children's rights and the UNCRC for those in government, central and local, and other bodies, public or otherwise, who deal with separated migrant children and young people?
- How are unaccompanied migrant children's best interests being considered and upheld in immigration decisions made about the leave to remain or enter?
- Is the current decision-making process on children's asylum claims satisfactory and does it represent the finding of a 'durable solution' for each child in the UK, in accordance with the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child?
- Are unaccompanied children able to access the legal advice and representation necessary to ensure that they are able to have their voice heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting them, and that their rights are upheld, in accordance with international standards? Should there be a system of guardians for unaccompanied and separated migrant children to ensure that their interests are represented?
- Are all unaccompanied migrant children made aware of the existence of a system for appealing against immigration and asylum decisions, and is this appeal system satisfactory?
- Is there sufficient support and advice for unaccompanied migrant children as they approach eighteen years of age and beyond into adulthood?
- Has the Government conducted an assessment of the number of young victims of trafficking in youth or adult custody, and of the steps being taken to safeguard them?
- Are local authorities and immigration officials dealing satisfactorily with the issue of children and young people whose ages have been disputed, and has the Government considered developing an independent multi-agency panel-based approach to determining age assessments?
- What assessment has been made of the impact of funding cuts on care provision for unaccompanied migrant children and young people, and what steps have been taken to ensure that such individuals are provided with sufficient support and care?
- Is the relationship between immigration legislation and child welfare legislation compatible with the UK's international human rights obligations?
Guidance on submissions
Submissions should reach the Committee by Friday 26 October 2012 and be addressed to Mike Hennessy, Commons Clerk of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Committee Office, House of Commons, 7 Millbank London SW1P 3JA.
Electronic submission in Word or Rich Text format is requested and should be emailed to [email protected], but a signed hard copy should also be sent.
It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. View guidance on giving evidence to Select Committees.
Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage. You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so, you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege. If your evidence is not printed, it will in due course be made available to the public in the Parliamentary Archives.
All communications to the Committee about its legislative scrutiny should be addressed through the Clerks or the Chair of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee. Evidence becomes the property of the Committee and may be printed, placed on the Internet or circulated by the Committee at any stage. You may publicise or publish your evidence yourself, but in doing so you much indicate that it was prepared for the Committee. Evidence published other than under the authority of the Committee does not attract parliamentary privilege.