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FRA began its work on the rights of the child immediately after its establishment in 2007 by developing indicators to measure respect for and the promotion of children’s rights in the EU. On the basis of these indicators, FRA has collected data and published reports on child trafficking and on asylum-seeking children who have become separated from their families. The research found that these children are frequently ill-informed about their rights and often feel the asylum procedures are too long, exacerbating the fear and insecurity they were already suffering.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by all the EU member states. The EU also has an obligation to promote the protection of the rights of the child, in line with the Treaty on European Union. In 2006, the European Commission proposed a strategy for protecting the rights of the child, and in 2011 adopted the ‘EU Agenda for the rights of the child’.
According to Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, children have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. Their views must be taken into account on matters that concern them, and a child’s best interest must be a primary consideration in any action taken relating to them. Other articles of the charter devote specific articles to child protection, such as the prohibition of child labour.
The FRA started its work on the rights of the child by developing indicators to measure the protection, respect and promotion of the rights of the child in the EU, immediately after its establishment in 2007. On the basis of these indicators the FRA has collected data and published two reports, on child trafficking, and on separated, asylum-seeking children.
The indicators to measure the protection, respect and promotion of the rights of the child in the EU, provide an initial toolkit to evaluate the impact, highlight the achievements and reveal the gaps of adopted EU law and policy on children’s status and experience across various fields (e.g. family environment and alternative care; protection from exploitation and violence; adequate standard of living; education, culture, citizenship and participation in activities related to school and sport).
The FRA’s work on child-trafficking in the European Union has identified problems in the definition of child trafficking and the identification and age assessment of the victims, a scarcity of convictions for child trafficking, differences in sanctioning policies, punishment of child-trafficking victims as well as their detention, lack of specialized shelters and children leaving shelters for unknown destinations, as well as difficulties in accessing legal assistance and family tracing, among others.
The FRA’s work on separated, asylum-seeking children in European Union Member States has examined the living conditions and experiences with legal procedures of these children in 12 countries. The research found that separated, asylum-seeking children are often not well informed about their rights and the legal proceedings concerning them; that often appropriate legal representation, advice and counseling is not made available to them; that the role of ‘guardian’ remains unclear to many children; that they frequently feel asylum procedures to be long, exacerbating feelings of insecurity and fear; finally, that children often have negative experiences in accessing care (including health, accommodation and food) as well as leisure activities or in practicing their religion.
The FRA has also researched the experience of discrimination, social marginalization and violence of Muslim and non-Muslim youth in three EU Member States, and included a child rights perspective in other aspects of its work, such as in its survey of Roma people and its survey on violence against women. In addition, the FRA devotes one of the chapters of its Annual Report on Fundamental rights to the rights of the child and the protection of children.
FRA’s ongoing/future work
The FRA works together with policy-makers, public authorities, and civil society organizations, informing them about its child rights indicators and encouraging and facilitating their use. In 2012 the Agency started to develop fieldwork research to examine the extent to which justice processes are child friendly. The FRA also co-operates with the Commission in the implementation of its Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors and co-operated with FRONTEX in the preparation of briefings for border-guards participating in FRONTEX operations in regard to the treatment of children. The FRA also plans to start co-operating with EASO.
- Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union
- EU Commission Communication 'Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child'
- EU Commission Communication 'EU Agenda for the rights of the child'
- EU Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
- EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims (2011/36/EU)
- EU Council Regulation Brussels II bis concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matters of parental responsibility
- EU Council Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations
- EU Commission Communication 'Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors (2010-2014)'
- EU Justice and Home Affairs Council Conclusions on Unaccompanied Minors
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Relevant Council of Europe conventions
- Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015
In November 2010, the FRA published its report on “Developing indicators for the protection, respect and promotion of the rights of the child in the European Union” following extensive consultation and close cooperation with relevant organisations and experts in the field. Following the adoption by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of its Guidelines on Child-friendly justice, and by the FRA’s Management Board of the FRA’s project on Children and Justice for 2012, the FRA proceeded to develop its indicators in the field of civil justice and in particular family justice, concerning cross-national divorce and parental separation. This was done in order to incorporate the Council of Europe Guidelines and prepare the FRA’s future work on children and justice.
Family justice, concerning cross-national divorce and parental separation
The FRA has developed an initial list of draft indicators in civil justice specifically elaborating the area of family justice as outlined in the attached document.
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom