EU: To access remedies for human rights violations, migrant children must have access to information, interpretation, and legal assistance

Building trust with a child in order to ensure their access to information and legal assistance is crucial from the very start. It can be best done in a safe space, and it is effectively impossible while the child is deprived of liberty, an ICJ workshop concluded.

Last week the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) hosted a closed transnational workshop on access for migrant children to justice and remedies for violations of their human rights. It considered in particular the situation of children in detention or subject to other restrictive measures or care arrangements as an alternative to detention.

The experts, from a number of European countries, highlighted the close relation between children’s access to information, their right to be heard, and the best interests of the child assessment for children subject to such alternative measures. Experts agreed that to provide legal services and information effectively to the child, it is necessary to build a relationship of trust with the child and with other actors involved, such as cultural mediators, interpreters, or psychologists. They emphasised the need for a high quality of interpretation and for training of interpreters and cultural mediators.

For migrant children in detention, participants identified the lack of information on the presence of children in detention facilities as one of the main obstacles to the children’s access to justice and remedies. State authorities should make sure that lawyers have access to places where children may be detained for reasons of immigration control.

Participants discussed best practices in ensuring access of children to remedies for human rights violations in official or de facto detention, and when subject to alternatives to detention. The potential of national litigation as well as applications to the European Court of Human Rights, European Committee on Social Rights, and UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, including for interim measures, was explored. Participants shared experiences of the abolition of protective custody in Greece and of the judicial rejection of the Belgian legislation on detention of children.

The event was the third and last transnational workshop that took place as part of the CADRE project. The project will continue with on-line conferences, publication of a case-law database and training materials, and the organization of national trainings in five EU countries.

You can download the agenda of the workshop here.

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