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.