Social costs of migration on children left behind need to be addressed
October 27, 2008, Manila – Lawyers – in – training from three top universities in the philippines and Thailand urged government to protect migrant children from deportation and to study deeper the social costs of migration on children left behind and adopt the necessary policies to protect children from the negative effects of migration and deportation.
Law students from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Chulalongkorn University applied the best interests of the child and a child-centered perspective as they debated issues related to deportation and the social and psycho-emotional impacts of migration on children left behind.
In the debate on deportation, discussion focused on deportation and repatriation in relation to State accountability in protecting the rights of the child. In some instances, the debaters argued, repatriation can serve to reunite families, or to protect the child from a dysfunctional juvenile justice system. They also pointed out that blanket deportation is discriminatory, and States may resort to deportation to evade the responsibility and obligation to protect the best interests of the child as a receiving country. From a resource point of view, mass deportation will strain the host country's resources, taking these away from its own citizens, or from more sustainable uses, such as sending this children to school and open up opportunities for them.
They pointed out that repatriation, done with cooperation of home and host country, can be a good practice. Finally, the lawyers – in – training urged states to declare a moratorium on deportation of children and instead develop strategies to handle cases of migrant children taking into account the best interests of the child.
In the second debate on the socio-economic impact of migration on children left behind, both sides of the debate agreed that migration policies and programs must emphasize protection of both parents and children and that there was a need for further studies to reveal its social costs on children left behind, taking into account that children are not a homogenous group.
Policy proposals put forth in the second debate included: entrusting children to a designated parental authority to guard against placing children in vulnerable situations; allow documented migrants to bring their families to the receiving countries eventually; and, providing child services with emphasis on coping techniques and the development of resiliency.
The participating debaters were from the St. Thomas More Society of Advocates (Ateneo Law School), Ateneo Society of International Law, Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and University of the Philippines Debate Society.
Good practice experiences on children and migration were also shared by ATIKHA (Philippines), Labour Rights Promotion Network (Thailand), Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, and the Philippines Department of Labor.
The policy debates were part of civil society initiatives to challenge governments and States to include as part of discussions on migration and development children's rights and how these are affected by domestic violence, improper institutional care, labor exploitation, detention, and criminalization. Children's rights are currently covered and protected by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The policy debates – sponsored by UNICEF Philippines, Asia ACTs, International Labour Organization's the Mekong Trafficking in Children and Women Project, and Save the Children Foundation – are part of the People's Global Action on Migration, Development, and Human Rights, a civil society-led event timed to coincide with the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 2008 in Manila from 27-30 October.
The People's Global Action initiative will culminate with a Children's Caravan on October 30 around the Malate Church.
(For more information contact Vida Subingsubing, (632) 929-0822; 0928-2024-266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)