The Home Office yesterday announced it will review the UK’s opt-out on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in respect of immigration issues.
Children’s commissioner for England Al Aynsley-Green (pictured right) and the Refugee Council welcomed the decision to revisit the “reservation” which means children seeking asylum and others under immigration control are denied the convention’s rights.
The reservation has long been regarded as an emblem of asylum-seeking children’s second-class status for children’s and refugee charities.
The Home Office said the review was a response to the government’s planned ratification this year of the Council of Europe’s convention on human trafficking – also announced yesterday – and the Border and Immigration Agency now being under a statutory duty to keep children safe from harm.
Aynsley-Green said: “We hope the outcome of the review will be the removal of the reservation so that this group is no longer excluded from the care, consideration and protection to which all children and young people are entitled.”
Refugee Council chief executive Donna Covey said: “Children who are the subject of immigration control are often among the most vulnerable, some here without their parents or anyone to look after them. The reservation is unnecessary and sends out the wrong message.”
The government signed up to the trafficking convention last year but so far only 11 of the 37 signatories have ratified the treaty, which entails bringing it into law. The convention has a strong emphasis on safeguarding the human rights of victims.