Best Interests of the Child-Assessments for recently arrived refugee children: Behavioural and children’s rights perspectives on decision-making in migration law

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If children apply for asylum in the Netherlands, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) investigates whether they need protection as a refugee. When deciding on the asylum application, the best interests of the child must be paramount, as follows from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for all decisions relating to children. This research focused on how the best interests of refugee children could be assessed from an orthopedagogical perspective. This happens in so-called Best Interests of the Child (BIC)-Assessments. The study showed that it is important to pay attention to complaints arising from traumatic events that the children experienced in the country of origin or during the flight. It has also been analysed how children can be supported to tell their life stories. Refugee children often find this difficult, while it is necessary to know why they ask for protection. The BIC-Assessments were carried out with 16 unaccompanied children and 11 children who arrived together with their parents. The BIC-Assessments were found to provide reliable information that the IND could take into account when deciding on the asylum application. For most of these children, their development was at risk due to problems in the child-rearing environment in the country of origin. A majority of the children struggled with social-emotional problems. The research has shown that it is possible to assess the best interests of refugee children in a scientifically proven way. In order for these interests to actually be taken into account in the asylum decision, it also seems necessary to amend the Aliens Act.
Translated title of the contributionBest Interests of the Child-Assessments met recentelijk gearriveerde gevluchte kinderen: Gedragswetenschappelijke en kinderrechtelijke perspectieven op beslissingsprocessen binnen het migratierecht
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Kalverboer, Margrite, Supervisor
  • Knorth, Erik, Supervisor
  • Zijlstra, Elianne, Co-supervisor
  • Post, Wendy, Co-supervisor
  • Grietens, Hans, Assessment committee
  • Liefaard, T., Assessment committee, External person
  • Timmerman, Greetje, Assessment committee
Award date14-Jun-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0487-5
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0486-8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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