Child refugee wins right to reunite with parents - Refugee Council
March 24, 2016

Child refugee wins right to reunite with parents

A child refugee has won the right to be allowed to be reunited with their parents following a significant court judgment.

At the moment, adult refugees in Britain are allowed to bring their husband or wife and their children under the age of 18 to come and join them in safety.

However, the existing rules appallingly discriminate against child refugees who arrived in the UK alone. These children, once granted refugee status, have no right to bring their parents or brothers and sisters to join them in safety. Instead, child refugees are forced to permanently live apart from their loved ones.

Nicola Burgess, Solicitor at JCWI who brought the case said:  “This is an important decision not just for this family, but for refugee rights in general. UK immigration law has failed to address the family reunification needs of children, and we are very pleased that the judge has accepted that a blanket exclusion of this sort, can violate the human rights of children and their close family members.

“This case doesn’t say there is always duty on the UK to facilitate family reunification in such circumstances as our client’s, but it does recognise that the refusal to grant entry clearance to family members can breach the Article 8 ECHR rights of a child refugee. JCWI welcomes this thorough and careful determination which highlights the need for a forensic analysis when conducting the balancing exercise of the rights of the individual against those of the state.”

Counsel in the case Abigail Smith and Kathryn Cronin added: “This is an important decision with implications for other child refugee family reunion cases. The Secretary of State had argued against permitting any child refugee to be reunited with his/her parents or siblings on the ground that approval in any such case encouraged child migration and added to costs on the public purse. The President of the UT rejected these arguments, which were unsupported by any evidence.”

The Refugee Council has long called for refugee children to be allowed to reunite with their loved ones. Commenting on the case, Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “Today’s ruling is a significant step forward. The Government’s current policy of permanently and deliberately separating children from their parents is both discriminatory and unconscionable. Ministers must now acknowledge that everyone has the right to live in safety with their families, and urgently change these cruel, divisive rules.”