Of the several hundreds of thousands of people trafficked in the EU, one in six are children. Existing guardianship rules for such children, who are often without parental care, frequently leads to inadequate support and protection, finds the latest report from FRA.
“Children deprived of parental care are at heightened risk of trafficking. Guardianship can help to prevent trafficking, protect children and enable them to exercise their rights,” says EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Dr Myria Vassiliadou, ahead of the events marking EU Anti-Trafficking Day on 18 October. “The European Commission is committed to ensuring all children are safe from trafficking.”
“Thousands of unaccompanied children are trafficked into and throughout the EU. Many are being let down by the systems that should protect them,” says FRA Director a.i. Constantinos Manolopoulos. “Qualified guardians can, and should, be vital to the wellbeing of such vulnerable children. To better protect children from harm, Member States should urgently develop and implement quality standards that will strengthen guardianship across the EU.”
Guardians are a key element of protection systems for children who cannot have their interests represented by their parents. This report, Guardianship systems for children deprived of parental care in the European Union, explores the key features of guardianship systems across all EU Member States that have been established to meet the needs of children without parental care. It includes those at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking or other forms of violence and exploitation.
This comparative report complements the handbook on guardianship for children deprived of parental care that should soon be available in all official EU languages. It will help decision makers take measures to promote the effective protection of all children, in line with the EU’s anti-trafficking Directive and Strategy. It does this by explaining the strengths and weaknesses of national guardianship systems which vary greatly from country to country, even within countries. For example:
Overall, the lack of a uniform approach to guardianship, despite provisions in national and international law, often results in less than adequate support and protection for the children the systems were set up to protect. Migration and asylum law also often overrides child protection law.
An integrated approach to child protection that looks to the best interests of the child is therefore clearly needed. Harmonising and strengthening guardianship systems is a vital component of protecting children from all forms of violence and exploitation.
This report underlines the wide variation that currently exists across all Member States. To read the report, see: Guardianship systems for children deprived of parental care in the European Union.
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