The rights of the child in immigration law
Peter Rodrigues of the Leiden Institute of Immigration Law argues for prioritising children in immigration law. He makes a plea for a specialist judge who when dealing with requests for residence permits would primarily focus on the interests of the child. A juvenile court magistrate is best equipped to evaluate what is in the best interest of children.
Professor of immigration law Rodrigues bases his mission on the so-called ‘best interest principle’ which was established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and various European guidelines. He concludes that the judge is bound to this principle, even if European asylum and immigration law fails to impose any special procedures for underage asylum-seekers. Rodrigues: ‘I consider the obligation to carry out a best-interest test, which also applies to legal institutions responsible for testing the decision-making process, to be more than sufficient rationale for having a juvenile court magistrate assess what is in the best interests of the child in cases involving unaccompanied underage aliens.’ In an ideal world, according to Rodrigues, the field of work of juvenile court magistrates would include immigration law.
The Institute of Immigration Law is committed to defending the interests of the child in Dutch asylum-seeker policies. Rodrigues made his plea in January 2012 at the Lustrum Conference on ‘The child in immigration law’. The talks given at this conference have now been brought together in a conference volume. The Lustrum Conference has opened the dialogue regarding immigration policy for unaccompanied underage aliens. In addition, in September 2012, the new Master’s programme in Juvenile Law is starting in Leiden. The Institute for Immigration Law will in this context be offering a Child and Migration course. On 12 October, an expert meeting is planned, in collaboration with the international Defence for Children organisation. The subject of the meeting will be the juvenile magistrate in alien cases, and the guests include judicial authorities, lawyers, scientists and practitioners working in the field. Rodrigues is satisfied: ‘Progress is being made’.
Rodrigues is looking for collaborators: ‘We are a small institute offering specific expertise. With this excellent volume we wish to make our expertise known, to help in the search for collaborators within and outside Leiden University. Child and migration is a small field of jurisdiction which is becoming increasingly more important. It is about children who are also aliens; a very vulnerable group.’ A research plan, including a PhD position, is being put together, in collaboration with Leiden professors Marielle Bruning (Juvenile Law) and Ton Liefaard (Children’s rights), on the topic of ‘Child and Migration’. ‘We hope to bring in funds that will allow us to carry out PhD research in this important field.’
The child in immigration law
The interests of the child are central to every contribution in this 8th volume of the Publication Series of the Institute for Immigration Law. At the Lustrum Conference, the speakers considered the vulnerable position of underage aliens from different perspectives. The speakers’ contributions are included in the volume, together with the contributions of the seminar speakers. As a result, this volume offers a topical and multidisciplinary overview of the current situation regarding this important topic.
(10 June 2012)
Law (in Dutch)