Legal practitioners to give evidence on unaccompanied minors in the EU
On Wednesday 16 March, the House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee will begin its inquiry on unaccompanied minors in the EU, by speaking to practitioners in the fields of immigration law and children's rights.
Unaccompanied minors are migrant children below the age of 18 from non-EU countries who are not accompanied by a parent or customary guardian. They are therefore considered to be particularly vulnerable and in need of special protection and care. The numbers of these children have risen dramatically as the refugee crisis continues to affect the EU.
The inquiry aims to investigate a number of areas including the nature and scale of the problems facing unaccompanied minors, the achievements of the EU Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors and possible options for further cooperation among EU Member States.
At 10.30am, the Committee will hear from three legal practitioners:
- Kathryn Cronin, barrister and Joint Head of Chambers at Garden Court Chambers, is an expert in immigration, asylum and family law, and has extensive experience in cases involving unaccompanied child refugees;
- Alison Harvey, Legal Director at the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA), is a specialist in immigration, asylum and nationality law; and
- Baljeet Sandhu, children's solicitor at the Islington Law Centre and co-director of the Refugee Children's Rights Project, has extensive experience in representing children and young people seeking protection in the UK, and specialises in the intersection between children's rights and immigration law.
The Committee will explore a number of issues with the witnesses, including:
- the key legal challenges facing unaccompanied minors in the UK, and whether these challenges differ depending on the age, gender and nationality of the minors concerned;
- the proposed changes to the Immigration Bill, which would "age out" certain groups of unaccompanied minors upon turning 18;
- the impact of the refugee crisis on unaccompanied children in the UK, and the effectiveness of Government's response; and
- the level of cooperation between national bodies and individuals responsible for responding to the needs of unaccompanied minors.