UN Committee on the Rights of the Child publishes Conculding Observations on Germany, Portugal and Russia

Sunday, February 9, 2014

On 5 February 2014, the UN Committee, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by States Parties, published concluding observations on, inter alia, Germany and Portugal, which are partially critical of those states’ practices towards asylum-seeking and refugee children.


The Committee offers four criticisms of the German asylum system: (1) children of 16 years have the legal capacity to begin the German asylum process on their own and, if they decide to do so, ‘they do not benefit from the full protection of the youth welfare services’ and are 'housed with adult asylum seekers’; (2) The age assessment procedure ‘may involve degrading and humiliating practices and does not produce accurate results, and a significant number of … children are identified as adults’; (3) ‘Deficiencies in the identification of child soldiers or children who have escaped forced recruitment, as well as the rejection of asylum applications in such cases, prevent an adequate assessment of their protection needs’; (4) ‘Custody pending deportation imposed on children can last up to 18 months’, which is incompatible with taking the best interests of the child as a primary consideration.


The Committee expresses concerns about ‘reports of lengthy and inadequate procedures regarding unaccompanied children, poor interviewing techniques, … and insufficient training and capacity-building of all stakeholders involved in the asylum application process’. Also criticised is ‘the quality of reception centre conditions such as overcrowding’.


The Federal Refugees Act of 1997 is a matter of general concern for the Committee, because it ‘adds additional grounds for rejection of asylum applications beyond the criteria established by the 1951 Convention and does not contain any specific safeguards against refoulement’. In addition, 'the Act does not provide for child- or gender-sensitive asylum procedures for unaccompanied and separated asylum seeking children’.

Read the full concluding observations of the Committee on Germany, Portugal and Russia, and other relevant documents.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.

Best interest of the child
Child Specific Considerations
Unaccompanied minor