The United States, Canada and Australia have enacted asylum legislation comporting with the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Each of these three countries has also signed onto the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, although only Canada has completed ratification. The asylum legislation in place applies equally to child applicants, yet under a standard meant for adults. This misapplication requires children to articulate their claim as intelligently as an adult, seek their own counsel, and often be detained with adults and sometimes criminals in the interim. It is the opinion of this author that the asylum laws for children of the three countries of focus are gravely inadequate in handling unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires the implementation of child oriented asylum legislation using the “best interests of the child” principle as the basis for review. To place unaccompanied alien children seeking asylum on equal footing and in consideration of their nature as children, this principle must be applied.
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