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Ciara Smyth

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as interpreted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, contains many rights that are relevant to child migrants. The European Convention on Human Rights, by contrast, contains no child-specific rights. Nevertheless, the European Court of Human Rights has developed a sophisticated jurisprudence related to child migrants. This chapter explores that jurisprudence from a child-rights perspective. In doing so, a number of questions are asked: what difference does it make to be a child, as opposed to an adult migrant? To what extent is the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights consistent with the lex specialis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child? How does the widely recognised international principle of the best interests of the child feature in the Court’s analysis and to what effect? These questions are explored with reference to such topical issues as the immigration detention of children, the living conditions of asylum-seeking children and the deportation of immigrant parents. It is established that the Court is alive and responsive to the particular impact that immigration decisions have on children and on their rights, although not evenly so.