It is the position of all IAWG members that all refugee, asylum-seeker and migrant children should be:
- Treated as children – Children are, first and foremost, children and should always be treated in full accordance with international law regarding child rights, regardless of their legal or migration status.
- Free – Children have a fundamental right to liberty. Children should never be deprived of liberty for reasons related to their or their parents’ immigration status. Migration is not a crime and children should never be criminalised or otherwise punished because of their or their parents’ migration status.
- Looked after – The best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children. Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child and will always constitute a child rights violation. When children are unaccompanied or separated, States should appoint a guardian or adviser as soon as the unaccompanied or separated child is identified, and maintain such guardianship arrangements until the child has either reached the age of majority or has permanently left the territory and/or jurisdiction of the State.
- With Their parents – Children have a right to family, which extends to their parents, guardians and/or primary care-givers. When the child’s best interests require keeping the family together, authorities must choose alternatives to detention for the entire family which allow children to remain with their families in non-custodial, community-based settings.
- In the community – Overall, an ethic of care—not enforcement—should guide all placement decisions regarding children and their families. States are required to favour measures that promote the care and well-being of the child rather than migration enforcement or control. Facilities that grant accommodation for migrant children and families should have all the material conditions necessary to ensure the child’s comprehensive care, protection and development.