Children's Rights - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

  The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been charged by the United Nations General Assembly with the responsibility for providing international protection to refugees and other persons within its mandate and for seeking permanent solutions to the problem of refugees by assisting governments and private organisations.

UNHCR welcomes the Joint Committee of Human Rights (JCHR) inquiry on children's rights. UNHCR would like to take this opportunity to inform the Committee about research that it is currently conducting on the quality of decision making for children seeking asylum in the UK. It is anticipated that a confidential report will be submitted to the Minister for Borders and Immigration in April 2009. Following this, a summary of the report will be made public. UNHCR will be pleased to provide a briefing to the Joint Committee on the findings from its audit at this stage.

  Since mid-2008, UNHCR has been undertaking an audit of the quality of interviews and decisions in children's asylum claims. The audit is being conducted through the Quality Initiative ("QI") Project—a joint project run since 2004 by UNHCR and the UK Government with the aim of evaluating and improving UNBA's asylum determination process.

  The QI project team is currently assessing the quality of asylum decision-making in children's asylum claims and the extent to which child sensitive approaches are employed in evidence-gathering; interviewing and assessment of the claim. The audit covers asylum claims where the child is the principal applicant in the claim.

  In line with previous audits conducted by the QI project, UNHCR will report directly to the Minister for Borders and Immigration on the findings from its children's audit. UNNCR will comment in particular on legal reasoning in children's asylum claims, use of country information, expert evidence, assessment of credibility., interviewing procedures and the application of other policies and procedures which may impact on the quality of the first-instance asylum decision.

  Should the Committee require any further information on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

February 2009

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