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How age limits children’s access to rights: reports on minimum age requirements in asylum and judicial proceedings
2.5.18
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Press release issued by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 25 April 2018

Read the reports: Fundamental Rights Agency: Age assessment and fingerprinting of children in asylum procedures – Minimum age requirements concerning children’s rights in the EU (pdf) and: Children’s rights and justice – Minimum age requirements in the EU (pdf). Further information below.


Only four EU Member States prohibit the solitary confinement of child detainees even though such detention can harm a child’s health and development. This is just one of the many ways age limits can impact child’s rights, outlined in a new European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report. It suggests how Member States can remove inconsistencies to better deliver child protection.

Legal minimum ages define when and how children are involved in or have influence over procedures affecting their lives. They also determine whether and under which conditions children may exercise certain rights independently and without the authorisation of their parents. As children mature at different ages, setting age limits in law or in practice may restrict some of their rights while not offering enough protection in others.

“Children have the right to be protected but also to be heard and take part in procedures that affect them,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “Member States need to find the right balance to ensure children are protected, but also empowered so that they have equal access to their rights across EU Member States.”

FRA’s report on minimum age requirements in justice shows how age thresholds for children to be heard vary across the EU. They also depend on whether, for example, they relate to family, criminal or asylum law or whether children are witnesses or victims, or need to be taken care of. Furthermore, procedural safeguards may not apply to all children up to the age of 18 across Member States. For example, some allow children below 18 to waive their right to a lawyer.

To highlight the critical issue of the different minimum age requirements across the EU, the Agency has been mapping national legal age requirements in various areas across the EU since 2017. Today, it publishes two reports focusing on justice and fingerprinting and age assessments in an asylum context. Alongside new findings on the digital world, others areas include marriage and citizenship, political participation, health and religion.

For more information please contact: media@fra.europa.eu / Tel.: +43 1 580 30 642


Age assessment and fingerprinting of children in asylum procedures – Minimum age requirements concerning children’s rights in the EU (pdf)

The methods used to determine the age of an applicant may include “invasive” medical tests which interfere with the rights of the child, including their right to dignity, integrity and privacy. It is often a challenge to find the right balance between protecting children from harm and promoting their participation in these procedures. This report provides important insights and identifies the implications of collecting children’s biometric data and conducting age assessments.

The lives of children are affected by migration procedures which determine their status and whether they are treated as a minor or an adult, and therefore not entitled to special child protection measures.

The report is one of two FRA reports addressing minimum age requirements in particular fields. The second report outlines age requirements and limits regarding child participation in judicial proceedings; procedural safeguards for, and rights of, children involved in criminal proceedings; as well as issues related to depriving children of their liberty. In addition, FRA has published on its website comparative data on age requirements in nine thematic areas: legal capacity; political participation; health; religion; asylum and migration; access to justice; children in the digital world; social and economic rights; and LGBTI issues. Taken together, the reports and published data provide a comprehensive overview of minimum age requirements in the EU.

Contents

1. Key findings and FRA opinions
2. Age assessment of children in asylum procedures
3. Fingerprinting children under migration and asylum law procedures

Source: Fundamental Rights Agency (link)


Children’s rights and justice – Minimum age requirements in the EU (pdf)

This report outlines Member States’ approaches to age requirements and limits regarding child participation in judicial proceedings; procedural safeguards for, and rights of, children involved in criminal proceedings; as well as issues related to depriving children of their liberty.

Finding the right balance between promoting children’s right to participate in procedures that affect their lives and protecting them from harm remains a challenge in the field of justice. Member States address this in various ways, including by setting minimum age requirements for certain rights to kick in, and age limits for special protective measures to apply. These can vary quite considerably across the EU.

The report is one of two FRA reports addressing minimum age requirements in particular fields. The second report focuses on the asylum context. In addition, FRA has published on its website comparative data on age requirements in nine thematic areas: legal capacity; political participation; health; religion; asylum and migration; access to justice; children in the digital world; social and economic rights; and LGBTI issues. Taken together, the reports and published data provide a comprehensive overview of minimum age requirements in the EU.

Contents

1. Key findings and FRA opinions
2. Children’s rights and justice
3. Child participation in judicial proceedings: the right to express views and be heard
4. Rights and safeguards in criminal proceedings
5. Detention of children

Source: Fundamental Rights Agency (link)

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