You may have seen our recent press release welcoming the government’s announcement of the removal of the reservation on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). We have been working for many years to end this injustice and are very pleased that the government has chosen to overturn its position, as all commentators had pointed out that it would not remove the UKBA’s right to implement its enforcement policy.
So what will this mean for children who are subject to immigration control, including those seeking asylum? Well, the short answer is that we don’t know, only time (and perhaps a few legal challenges) will tell, as the CRC does not actually form part of UK law.
What we will be looking out for are two main things, one of which is how the court will take into account the duty of the government to show that it has considered the best interests of a child in its decision making. This may be, for example, if the court is asked to judge whether or not the detention of a particular family was lawful, or the proposed removal of a trafficked child is challenged in court.
The other change that we will expect to see as a result of this is that policies and procedures affecting children should become more ‘child friendly’. We have been asking the government to think of children subject to immigration control as ‘children first’ for some time; hopefully this move signals an intention on behalf of government to do exactly that.