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Best interests of the child must come first, UN child rights committee reminds Australia

GENEVA (3 February  2016) – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reminded the Australian authorities that, under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a party,  the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when taking any decision concerning children.

The Committee was reacting to the decision by the Australian High Court that the government’s policy of detaining asylum seekers offshore is legal, thereby clearing the way for more than 260 people currently in Australia, including dozens of children and infants, to be deported to an immigration processing centre in Nauru.

“The Committee had already expressed its concern in 2012 when it reviewed Australia at ‘the inadequate understanding and application of the principle of the best interests of the child in asylum-seeking, refugee and/or immigration detention situations’,”* said Committee Chair Benyam Mezmur. “This decision by the High Court greatly concerns us as these children and their families face a great risk in being sent to a place that cannot be considered safe nor adequate.”

Among those who could face deportation are reportedly 54 children, as well as 37 babies who were born in Australia.

Article 3 (1) of the Convention states:  “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”


*Committee on the Rights of the Child review findings on Australia 2012 - see paragraph 31 http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC/C/AUS/CO/4&Lang=En
For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell  +41 (0) 22 917 9466 / +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org

The Committee on the Rights of the Child: 

Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified to date by 196 States):

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