Memorandum submitted by the UN Refugee
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") Projecta 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.