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Core Standards for guardians
of separated children in Europe

Members European Parliament advocate for European rules on guardianship

Press release December 2011 


Members of the European Parliament Sargentini (Greens party) and Wikström (Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) advocate for European guardianship rules for separated children. On the 30th of November 2011, they received a report on this issue and have signed to act as ambassadors of the Core Standards for Guardians. Defence for Children is enthusiastic about the support from these Members of European the Parliament. The first step has been taken to empower guardians to act as a watchdog dedicated to defend the rights of the child.

Specific EU legislation for guardians required

The protection and care separated children receive from their guardians differs depending on the country which the child has (often randomly ) entered. This is unacceptable. All European countries have signed the Convention on the rights of the Child (hereafter: CRC). Therein, the obligation to take into account the specific needs of separated children is laid down. Sargentini is enthusiastic about the Core Standards for guardians of separated children which are the result of an extensive project that was coordinated  by Defence for Children in eight European countries. "Now we are going to promote the standards for guardians everywhere when it comes to separated children. However, more needs to be done. There have to be European rules on the qualifications of guardians". Defence for Children shall take this into account when developing a follow-up project.

Trust takes time

At the launch of the Core Standards for guardians at the European Parliament, a former separated child and her guardian gave a presentation. For all participants it was hard not to get emotional when the former separated child talked about her worries as a nine year old girl on a dangerous journey sitting in a bus. Under her arm she had her eight year old brother and under her other arm her seven year old sister. As a separated child she distrusted her guardian at first, just as she distrusted all strangers. "I only wanted to keep my distance and protect my sister". Her former guardian explained how she took the time to make the girl feel at ease and to get to know her. The girl has turned into a woman now and told her story because she is worried about the separated children who enter Europe today. "I experienced the warm and affectionate side of Europe, was given the room and guidance to deal with my trauma's and was able to develop my talents. But above all I was given trust. I was welcomed. If I would enter the Netherlands now, a cold reception would await me".

Clean Hands

Member of Parliament Wikström was, just like Sargentini, highly touched by the story of the former separated child and was convinced to work with the Core Standards for guardians. Though she wanted to add an eleventh standard: "Guardians have to keep their heads cool, their heart warm and keep their hands clean". Then the former separated child, upon request, added that guardians should not forget that their pupils are children first and foremost who need rest and safety. "Talk with them, play with them. Give them a teddy bear and make sure that they can be a child again."

Strong weapon for guardians


"As from now guardians of separated children have a powerful weapon in their hands to improve their position", stated Martine Goeman from Defence for Children at the launch. On the basis of the CRC the opinion of the guardian should have more weight in decisions regarding separated children. Furthermore, they should be able to spend more time with each child and should for instance play a role in the safe return of children, when that is in the best interest of the child.

Orphanages in Afghanistan

Martine Goeman addressed the latest news. This week the Norwegian authorities reached an agreement with Afghan authorities to establish a return shelter in Kabul, in order for young Afghani asylum seekers to be sent back. There are multiple European countries collaborating on this issue and most likely more countries will want to send separated children back to reception facilities in the country of origin. "Were the guardians in Norway able to participate during the negotiations on the plan of a return shelter?", Martine Goeman asked. "Where they able to share their opinion as to whether this was in the best interest of the child and was that vision seriously considered; as required by the CRC?". With the Core Standards for guardians as a tool, guardians should feel empowered to speak up and advocate for the recognition and participation of themselves and their pupils in all procedures and plans that have an impact upon them.


Closing a Protection Gap - coordinated by Defence for Children The Netherlands - PO BOX 11103 - 2301 EC - Leiden - www.defenceforchildren.nl