Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and Ursula O’Hare, Director, Law Centre NI, welcome the launch of the Independent Guardian Service for Separated Children by Barnardos.
“There are small numbers of unaccompanied or separated children in Northern Ireland and these may include children who have been or are at risk of being, trafficked or exploited.
“They are a vulnerable group of children who are likely to have experienced trauma in their home countries and during their journey here.
“The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child states that separated children require special protection and support, including having access to a Guardian.
“As such we welcome the launch of the Independent Guardianship Service by Barnardos today and are both proud to have played a critical role in working with Lord Morrow to ensure the provision was included in the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 and became law.
“Whilst we have been disappointed by unnecessary Government delay in the service being available, today marks a new chapter for separated children in Northern Ireland.
“They will now have a trusted adult who is there to guide them through, and make sure they are involved in, decisions about their lives in areas such as social care, education and immigration. They will also make sure statutory agencies are doing everything they can, and should, to support them.
“NICCY will continue to monitor how well separated children are being supported in NI.
- You can read the Commissioner’s and the Law Centre’s joint policy paper and the Commissioner’s commissioned research on Separated Children here
- You can read the Law Centre’s Evidence to All Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Inquiry into the situation of unaccompanied and separated minors in Europe (2017) here
- Lord Morrow said the following in the Final Stage of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Bill: “I record my gratitude to the Law Centre and the office of the Children's Commissioner. The Law Centre and the office of the Children's Commissioner provided valuable expertise with regard to the introduction of a guardian for separated children. I hope that they take pride in knowing that they played a critical role in seeing that provision become law.” [Source: Hansard]