Joint communiqué: Placing youngsters’s rights on the coronary heart of the International Compact for Migration’s implementation in Asia-Pacific – World
As states party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), governments have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the specific obligations of every child in their jurisdiction, without discrimination based on parental migration or any other status. We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, call on governments across the Asia-Pacific region to uphold and fulfill these rights for all children in the context of migration.
Children in the context of migration are often forced to lead precarious lives on the fringes of society and face risks and challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These children have difficulty accessing basic services such as health care, education and protection, and are at increased risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. These risks are most acute for the most at risk, including unaccompanied and separated children, children living in situations of protracted irregularity, LGBTIQ adolescents and adolescents, and children with disabilities. Despite encouraging efforts in several countries, far too many children remain at risk of immigrant detention.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) is a breakthrough for children and states alike. The pact is rooted in the CRC and recognizes that meeting the specific needs of children and young people is central to migration management. The commitments related to the 23 goals of the GCM provide governments with a practical tool to fulfill their existing child rights obligations and to protect, involve and empower all children regardless of their status in countries of origin, transit, destination and return.
As governments and other key stakeholders gather on March 10 and 12, 2021 to regionally review the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in the Asia-Pacific Region, we demand that children’s rights be at the heart of migration management and the national migration efforts are made to implement the GCM.
This communiqué reflects the results of the virtual round table “Children’s Rights and Migration in Asia” on February 25, 2021, jointly organized by the Initiative for Children’s Rights in the Global Compacts, the International Detention Coalition, Save the Children, UNICEF and the UN major became a group for children and young people.
Key recommendations for governments and other stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region include:
Respect for children’s rights in relation to migration, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and complemented by the concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaty bodies.
Prioritize the implementation of child-related obligations in the GCM and strengthen national capacities to apply the guiding principle of the Pact on the Sensitivity of Children. Use an age, gender, disability, and diversity lens when implementing the GCM to ensure that the best interests of the child are at the fore in all relevant policies and practices.
Inclusion of children and young people as important stakeholders and partners in the conception and monitoring of the GCM implementation at national and regional level through meaningful engagement and capacity support. A societal approach requires that the voices and views of those most affected be heard.
Adopt and implement measures to ensure that immigrant girls and boys have full and equal access to national education, health, child protection, judicial and social protection systems, including by removing legal, administrative and practical barriers. This should include bridging language barriers, providing specialist training for nurses, social workers, teachers, doctors and other personnel, and ensuring the affordability of services. Regardless of their migration status and without fear of reporting to the migration authorities, children must have access to services, including by ensuring that migrants who are affected by sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and other forms of violence have access to Judiciary.
Adapting the national framework to international human rights and humanitarian standards to ensure that undocumented migrants are not criminalized. End the harmful practice of detaining immigrants of all children in law and practice, and expand and implement non-custody, community-based alternatives that preserve the right to family reunification and ensure the appropriate reception, protection and care of every migrant child.
Work to end all forms of xenophobia, stigma and discrimination against migrant children and their families by addressing legal and political discrimination and exclusion. Monitor and combat hate speech online and offline, and support the vital role of local leadership in recognizing migrants’ contributions to societies and in shaping public awareness and support.
Further strengthen the evidence base for children in connection with migration by improving and investing in the collection and analysis of accurate, reliable and comparable data, broken down by gender, age, migration status and other characteristics relevant in the national context, while safeguarding the right to data protection under international human rights law .
Make sure the COVID-19 responses fully address the needs and rights of immigrant children and families. Public health considerations should be the first criterion in vaccine allocation, not migration status or nationality. The provision of inclusive vaccination strategies requires that pre-pandemic barriers to access to health care be removed through outreach and communication campaigns. In order for migrants to be sure that they will not be detected and deported through access to medical care or vaccinations, firewalls must be in place between health care providers and immigration authorities. Consider establishing financial assistance programs for migrant families affected by the financial crisis sparked by the pandemic, including taking into account the loss of income from remittances.
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Initiative for children’s rights in the Global Compacts
International detention coalition
International Organization for Migration
Hong Kong Justice Center
Mixed migration center
Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia
Save the children
Terre des Hommes Netherlands
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations main group for children and adolescents
Amihan Abueva, Regional Executive Director of Child Rights Coalition Asia
Khadijah Madihi, independent consultant
Mahesh Menon, Assistant Professor of Law, Sai University
Dr. Bipasha Roy, independent children’s rights activist
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