Migrant children: what rights at 18?
- Parliamentary Assembly
adopted by the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of
the Assembly, on 23 May 2014 (see Doc. 13505, report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and
Displaced Persons, rapporteur: Ms Mailis Reps).
1. While reaching the age of majority
is a milestone to be celebrated for most young people, for unaccompanied
migrant children it means losing their rights and, in many cases,
being obliged to leave the country where they have lived and forged
2. Consequently, it is necessary to fill this legal void in order
to help those young people make a successful transition from childhood
to adulthood, including in the case of young refugees or asylum
3. The Parliamentary Assembly observes that there is no legal
instrument, or even consensus, with regard to procedures for assessing
a person’s age and stresses the need to apply the benefit of the
doubt, bearing in mind the higher interest of the child.
4. The Assembly emphasises the positive aspects of initiatives
taken by certain Council of Europe member States, such as France,
Hungary, Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom, to provide alternative
care and support solutions.
5. The Assembly notes, however, that the lack of harmonisation
of administrative procedures engenders a great many inconsistencies,
in most instances leaving young migrants with no other choice than
to take on undeclared work in poor conditions, as they have no financial
6. The impossibility of accessing justice, decent work or housing
makes these young migrants even more vulnerable by preventing them
from attaining financial independence and exposing them to the risks
of being caught up in the nets of drug trafficking, prostitution
or trafficking in human beings.
7. The Assembly recalls Committee of Ministers Recommendation
CM/Rec(2007)9 on life projects for unaccompanied migrant minors
and also the European Union’s Stockholm Programme 2010-2013, which
aim to help young migrants become fully responsible for themselves
and achieve a good level of autonomy.
8. The Assembly is convinced that establishing a life project
taking account of a young migrant’s past and cultural identity constitutes
an important basis for developing their autonomy and sense of responsibility.
9. In this context, establishing a transition category would
facilitate successful economic, social and cultural integration
while guaranteeing support and assistance measures.
In view of the above, the Assembly calls on member States
of the Council of Europe to:
due account of the specific situation of unaccompanied young migrants
who are reaching adulthood, bearing in mind the higher interest
of the child;
10.2 give young migrants the benefit of the doubt when assessing
their age and ensure that such assessment is made with their informed
10.3 bear in mind that family reunion remains an integral component
of the life project, including through voluntary return;
establish a transition category, between the ages of 18
and 25, to help young migrants, and take political measures geared
10.4.1 welfare assistance and education;
10.4.2 access to information on the relevant administrative procedures;
10.4.3 extensions of housing assistance;
10.4.4 access to health care;
10.5 provide for specific training measures for social workers
and anyone dealing closely or remotely with young migrants;
10.6 raise the awareness of civil society, as an intermediary
between the public administration, the authorities and young migrants;
10.7 introduce a school programme – along the lines of the
European Union’s Leonardo da Vinci programme – enabling young migrants
to have a special document allowing them to travel.
11. The Assembly also recommends that local authorities demonstrate
empathy and creativity in drawing up a policy for the integration
and participation of young migrants in local public life.