Children’s Refugee Law Center (Barnens Asylrättscentrum): Protecting the Rights of Asylum-Seeking Children
Submitted by: Erica Molin, Secretary General, The Swedish Refugee Law Center
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
October 2016 - December 2018
The Center provides children in the asylum process with access to legal advice and adequate legal representation through a telephone line. The Center works for legally secure regulations and procedures that are developed with the consideration for children’s rights.
1) Children in the asylum process have access to legal advice and adequate legal representation:
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum’s lawyers provide legal advice to asylum-seeking children and persons representing them through telephone (2 h/week), pre-booked meetings (2 h/week) and e-mail.
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum keeps the information material about the children’s rights in the asylum process updated. Another main achievement of the project is the development and dissemination of information material for children. The Center has produced both extensive information material regarding the asylum process for children (focused on unaccompanied children as well as children seeking asylum with their families) and the information material concerning specific residence permits to study in Sweden (known as “nya gymnasielagen”).
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum accepts and reviews the cases of asylum-seeking children from the children themselves or persons representing them.
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum acts as legal counsel and represents children in the previously identified cases.
2) Regulations and procedures are legally secure and developed with the consideration for children’s rights:
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum contributes to the development of new laws and regulations by producing and submitting analyses and reports to the legislators and authorities, as well as NGOs.
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum initiates and maintains contact with the legislators and authorities (e.g. Migration Agency) responsible for migration.
3) Barnens Asylrättscentrum creates relevant networks and builds their capacity to represent asylum-seeking children:
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum offers training through seminars and workshops on the asylum process to the stakeholders in the networks surrounding children.
4) Barnens Asylrättscentrum takes steps to become a sustainable platform providing legal support to asylum-seeking children:
- Barnens Asylrättscentrum explores possibilities for a more diversified funding through the established networks.
Funded by the World Childhood Foundation.
- Children in the asylum process
- NGO’s working with child rights
- Teachers, municiaplities etc.
Challenges and how they were overcome
Changes in the asylum legislation provided challenges in the protection of child rights. Another challenge was to meet the information demand from children and their network due to the legal changes.
These challenges were overcome by cooperating with other actors to share information. We also focused on trainings for the network of children.
Results of the Good Practice
The legal advice we offer contributes to increased well-being in children when they, for instance after a meeting, express their understanding of the asylum process and the regulatory framework in greater detail. Thereby we may have offered them support to bring forward asylum claims to the migration authorities that might not have been expressed otherwise. It can also be seen when children express gratitude for just being listened to, or finally getting answers to their questions.
In other parts of the project, our efforts to improve the well-being of the children are more clearly measurable. This applies, for example, to cases where we act as legal representatives and a child is granted a residence permit. In such cases we see direct effect on children's well-being since the child is protected from returning to situations where they risk being subjected to violence and/or abuse. Notwithstanding the specific outcome of the cases we act in, we always take measures to ensure the child's well-being during the course of the asylum process. For example, by being available, offering extra follow-up meetings, including the child in decisions and working to ensure that they are heard and listened to.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
Develops new ways to provide asylum-seeking children with information on the process that is additional to the information that the authorities provide that can be difficult for the children to understand.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The children can take an active part in the asylum process when they understand what and when information must be shared.
The Children’s Refugee Law Centre has been included in the operations of the Swedish Refugee Law Centre.