NEWS: United States:New Guidelines for Children's Asylum Claims

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 12:45:19 -0800 (PST)

INS Issues New Guidelines for Children's Asylum Claims
INS News Release, December 10, 1998

Washington -- The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued new
guidelines today designed to enhance the ability of INS officers to
evaluate claims of children seeking asylum. The INS guidelines make the
United States only the second country in the world to adopt special
procedures for considering the unique needs of its youngest asylum seekers.

"As part of the Administration's announcement marking the 50th annuversary
of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United
Nations General Assembly, President Clinton today underscored the new INS
guidelines for Children's Asylum Claims," INS Commisioner Doris Meissner
said. "The new guidleines not only reflect the Administration's continued
international leader ship in humanitarian issues, they also demonstrate
that INS is taking concrete action to further the protection needs of
refugee children."

In refining existing asylum procedures, the guidelines recognize that
children under the age of 18 may experience persecution differently from
adults and may not present testimony with the same degree of precision of
adults. The guidelines suggest child-sensitive procedures to help INS
Asylum Officers and overseas Immigration Officers interact more
meaningfully with children during asylum of refugee interviews.

Some governmentas and cultures condone human rights violations against
children simply by their inaction. These violations can take a number of
forms including abusive child labor practices, trafficking in children,
rape, forced prostitution and the forcible recruitment of children by
armies fighting in armed conflicts.

While the guidelines do not change the law in any way, they help provide
the child asylum seeker with a comfortable, secure enviornment in which to
best present his or her claim. All Asylum Officers in the United States
will receive training designed to help them use and implement the new
guidelines and reinforce their awareness of children's and cultural issues.

The INS Resource Information Center (RIC) will also issue country
conditions information to inform Asylum Officers of the legal and cultural
situation of children in their countries of origin, on the incidence of
exploitation and other victimization, and on the adequacy of state
protection afforded to children. The guidelines and the information
gathered by the RIC will enhance the ability of INS officers to make
informed, consistent and fair decisions during both the interview process
and the legal analysis of the claim.

INS developed the Guidelines for Children's Asylum Claims as a
collaborative effort after consultations with interested US government and
non-governmental organizations and individuals, as well as with the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In May of 1995, INS issued similar
guidelines for the asylum claims of women.

In 1996, Canada issued "Child Refugee Claimants: Procedural and Evidentiary
Issues," the first document of its kind issued by a country operating a
refugee determination system.

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