PRO ASYL welcomes the full validity of the UN Convention for all children

PRO ASYL welcomes today’s decision of the German government to withdraw its reservations towards the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This step has been long overdue: human rights and refugee organisations have been advocating for the withdrawal of the reservation for 18 years. “Finally there is an end to the scandalous situation that children of refugees and migrants are denied to enjoy their basic human rights”, explained Heiko Kauffmann, board member of PRO ASYL. “This is a good day for international law and human rights” he concluded.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Germany on 5 April 1992 under reservation. The rights of the child, as lined out by the UN Convention, were not to be applied in asylum procedures or within the area of immigration laws. The consequence of this substantial discrimination was – for example – that 16 year old minors were treated as adults within asylum procedures and could be submitted to detention.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prioritizes the best interest of the child within all official proceedings. PRO ASYL welcomes that this principle will now be fully applied for children of refugees and migrants as well.

The “Bundestag”, the German Parliament, had already recommended to withdraw the reservations towards the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 26 September 2001. Since then many decisions of the parliament repeated this recommendation. The withdrawal of reservations had also entered numerous party programmes and government declarations. However, previous governments usually explained the failure to withdraw the reservations by pointing to the resistance of regional governments within Germany and their competences within the federal political system. On 26 March 2010 the “Bundesrat”, the representation of all regional governments, finally gave up its blockade and decided to welcome a withdrawal of the reservations.

“Today’s decision could mean the good ending of an almost never-ending story, if the government would take immediate action to improve the situation of child refugees by fully implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, said Heiko Kauffmann.

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