UN report on Canada’s compliance with the rights of the child

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its observations on Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

You can find the full report here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC-C-CAN-CO-3-4_en.pdf (la version française n’est pas encore prête).

Here are the most relevant sections:

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Sixty first session

17 September – 5 October 2012

Asylum-seeking and refugee children

73. The Committee welcomes the State party’s progressive policy on  economic

migration.  Nevertheless, the Committee is gravely concerned at the recent passage of the

law entitled, Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, in June 2012 authorizing the

detention of children from ages 16 to 18 for up to one year due to their irregular migrant

status. Furthermore, the Committee regrets that notwithstanding its previous

recommendation (CRC/C/15/Add.215, para. 47, 2003), the State party has not adopted a

national policy on unaccompanied and asylum-seeking children and is concerned that the

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act makes no distinction between accompanied and

unaccompanied children and does not take into account the best interests of the child. The

Committee is also deeply concerned about the frequent detention of  asylum-seeking

children it being done without consideration for the best interests of the child.  Furthermore,

while acknowledging that a representative is appointed for unaccompanied children, the

Committee notes with concern that they are not provided with a guardian on a regular basis.

Additionally, the Committee is concerned about the deportation of Roma and other migrant
children who previous to that decision often await, in a certain status, for prolonged periods

of time, even years, such decision.

 

74. The Committee urges the State party to bring its immigration and asylum laws

into full conformity with the Convention and other relevant international standards

and reiterates its previous recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.215, para 47, 2003). In

doing so, the State party is urged to take into account the Committee‟s General

Comment No. 6 on the “Treatment of unaccompanied and separated children outside

their country of origin” (CRC/GC/2005/6, 2005). In addition, the Committee urges the

State party to:

(a) Reconsider its policy of detaining children who are asylum-seeking,

refugees and/or irregular migrants; and ensure that detention  is only used in

exceptional circumstances, in keeping with the best interests of the child,  and  subject

to judicial review;

(b) Ensure that   legislation and procedures use the best interests of the child

as the primary consideration in all immigration and asylum processes,    that

determination of the best interests is consistently conducted by professionals who have

been adequately such procedures;

(c) Expeditiously establish the institution of independent guardianships for

unaccompanied migrant children;

(d) Ensure that cases of asylum-seeking children progress quickly so as to

prevent children from waiting long periods of time for the decisions; and

(d) Consider implementing the United Nations High Commission for

Refugees Guidelines on International Protection No.8: Child Asylum Claims under

articles 1(A)2 and 1(F) of the 1951 Convention. In implementing this

recommendation,  the Committee stresses the need for the State party to pay

particular attention to ensuring that its policies and procedures for children in asylum

seeking, refugee and/or immigration detention give due primacy to the principle of the

best interests of the child and that immigration authorities be trained on the principle

and procedures of the best interest of the child.

 Statelessness

40. While welcoming the positive aspects of the April 2009 amendment to the

Citizenship Act, the Committee is nevertheless concerned about some provisions of the

amendment which place significant limitations on acquiring Canadian citizenship for

children born to Canadian parents abroad. The Committee is concerned that such

restrictions, can in some circumstances, lead to statelessness. Furthermore, the Committee

is concerned that children born abroad to government officials or military personnel are

exempted from such limitations on acquiring Canadian citizenship.

 

41. The Committee recommends the State party to review the provisions of the

amendment to the Citizenship Act that are not in line with the Convention with a view

to  removing restrictions on  acquiring Canadian citizenship for children born abroad

to Canadian parents. The Committee also urges the State party to consider ratifying

the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

 Trafficking

81. The Committee welcomes the passage of Bill C-268 in 2010, which requires

minimum mandatory sentences for persons convicted of child trafficking.  However, the

Committee is concerned about the weak capacity of law enforcement organizations to

identify and subsequently protect child victims of trafficking and the low number of

investigations and prosecutions in this respect.  The Committee is also concerned that due

to the complexity of most child trafficking cases, law enforcement officials and prosecutors

do not have clear guidelines for investigation and are not always aware of how to best lay

charges.

 

82. The Committee urges the State party to provide systematic and adequate

training to law enforcement officials and prosecutors with the view of protecting all

child victims of trafficking and improving enforcement of existing legislation. The

Committee recommends that such training include awareness-raising on the

applicable sections of the Criminal Code criminalizing child trafficking, best practices

for investigation procedures, and specific instructions on how to protect child victims.

 

 

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