January 26, 2021
Today we publish Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Child Circle’s new report Advancing Protection for Unaccompanied Children in Europe by Strengthening Legal Assistance.
The new EU Migration and Asylum Pact commits to strengthening laws to “protect and safeguard” unaccompanied children, but it also introduces proposals that could harm children and undermine their best interests. KIND and Child Circle’s report provides recommendations on how the EU can make its commitment to protect unaccompanied children a reality.
At the heart of our recommendations is that free quality legal assistance is a central safeguard for the protection of unaccompanied children. It should be available to all unaccompanied children for all relevant procedures affecting them and best interests procedures should be improved and justiciable. Furthermore, in restricted settings and in complex procedures, which pose acute risks to children, namely at borders and in transnational procedures involving transfers of children between countries, quality legal assistance should be actively facilitated and supported by authorities.
The EU has a unique and multifaceted role to strengthen legal assistance and the report provides our specific recommendations for EU measures which can promote progress in the field and a call for action.
To raise awareness of the key features of quality legal assistance for unaccompanied children, our report draws from national good practices, highlighting the experience of KIND in the United States and of its partners in Europe, while indicating priorities for future reform and engagement.