Wednesday, 22 November 2017: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Government Announcement on Reception Directive is Positive for Children
The Children’s Rights Alliance has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will opt-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU) allowing asylum seekers to seek employment under certain conditions. Notably the Directive also contains a dedicated section on children.
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “This Directive provides the opportunity to ensure that children seeking protection will have their best interests considered in decisions affecting them. It should also ensure a more dignified standard of living for children and their parents. Many of these people in Ireland live in the Direct Provision system, a system where children’s rights have been ignored.
Granting people seeking protection access to the workplace is a positive move. I have met asylum seekers who are qualified doctors, teachers or engineers, and who experience enormous stress and mental health problems because they have nothing to do all day. Providing people with the opportunity to work will not only contribute positively to the Irish economy, it will also help support families’ integration, restore parents’ self-esteem, build children’s confidence and lift families out of poverty.
I know through my work on the Working Group on the Protection Process and Direct Provision the many challenges that exist for children. This is why we welcome that the Directive contains a dedicated section on children including, most importantly, that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration and that the child’s views will be taken into account in all decisions affecting them. It also refers to family reunification and that rehabilitation services will provided for child victims, many of whom have experienced horrendous abuse or who have been trafficked. Importantly, the Directive sets out that children will have access to leisure and play activities in reception centres, so children can grow and learn, a key part of any childhood.”
Tanya Ward concluded: “There is no doubt that this Directive is positive for children. However, it must be remembered that it sets down minimum standards and there should be no roll-back. In areas where Ireland is already doing well, we must continue building on existing good practice. The Government’s announcement presents an opportunity to ensure that our national law provides that all decisions are made in the best interests of children and that they have a say in those decisions."
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Notes to Editor
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.