Protecting Migrant Children
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Protecting Migrant Children

In Search of Best Practice

Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

Unprecedented numbers of children are crossing international borders seeking safety. Framed around compelling case studies explaining why children are on the move in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, this book explores the jurisprudence and processes used by nations to adjudicate children’s protection claims. The book includes contributions from leading scholars in immigration, refugee law, children’s rights and human trafficking which critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of international and domestic laws with the aim of identifying best practice for migrant children.
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Chapter 7: Immigration control and the best interests of the child in Europe

Carmelo Danisi and Mary Crock


The number of children on the move in Europe is without historical precedent. In theory, these children should enjoy protections as rich as anywhere in the world. In reality, European practices have been based on minimum standards of protection with a focus on specific (often procedural) rights. By examining how the Council of Europe and the European Union operate to protect human rights, this chapter explores how notions of the best interests of the child have been embedded in these two systems while attempting to control migration flows. It argues that both systems have considered the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the CRC Committee as guidance for every context involving children, including for asylum and migration. Acknowledging the vulnerability of migrant children as a group with special needs, they stress the importance of integrating the best interests principle at legislative and administrative levels to pursue the ‘social development’ of children whatever their immigration status. As a result, while controversies persist, ‘Europe’ does provide a common protective foundation for migrant children. If it will grant a consistent approach on the rights of the child as an indivisible catalogue, it also offers a common potential for more sophisticated best interests-friendly solutions to prevail over the need to protect ‘national’ boundaries.

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