Refugee children often find themselves in a vulnerable position; they have experienced trauma and mental health problems and in the host country they are involved in a complex and adult-oriented asylum application procedure. International and European legal standards urge states to adapt migration procedures to the age and maturity of children and to make these more child-friendly. In this article, the core concept of analysis is the child’s right to information. It will be shown that this right is closely connected to other children’s rights and concepts, such as access to justice, child-friendly justice and the right to participation. The implementation in practice of the right to information in the asylum procedure in the Netherlands will serve as a case study, to show the precarious information position of both unaccompanied as well as accompanied refugee children. The results of this study show that the information position of these children can be improved, which will benefit their legal position, emotional well-being and possibilities to exercise their rights.
In this article the development and background of the Directive on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings is sketched out. Two key rights are reflected upon: the right to legal assistance and the right to other appropriate assistance. The main challenge with regard to the implementation of the right to legal assistance is the possibility of member states to derogate from this right on the basis of the circumstances of the particular criminal case(s) involving the child. The right to legal assistance is contingent upon the proportionality clause that has been built in the Directive and therefore legal assistance is not guaranteed for every child suspect or accused. The right to other appropriate assistance is given separate attention in the Directive, which strengthens the child’s legal position and his support during the proceedings.