Children in asylum
Many children go through a procedure granting international protection in Belgium. Although they are all under 18 years old and apply for international protection, they can be divided into different categories:
- the accompanied child: most children remain here with their parent(s) or (legal) representative. Their parents or they themselves have filed an application for international protection.
- the unaccompanied child: every year, hundreds of unaccompanied children without any parent or representative, file an application for international protection in Belgium.
The procedure granting international protection contains some specific provisions for both categories of children. The CGRS takes additional measures to process this kind of applications.
The coordinator for minors
The CGRS has a coordinator for all children. The coordinator knows everything related to the processing of applications for international protection filed by accompanied and unaccompanied minors. She also closely supervises their asylum files. The protection officer can turn to the coordinator for questions regarding children in the procedure granting international protection. The protection officer can also consult with the coordinator on individual asylum cases. Guardians and lawyers can turn to this coordinator with questions or remarks.
A specialised protection officer
In principle, the child will be interviewed by a specialised protection officer.
In addition to a specific training, the protection officers also received a basic training and have at least two years of experience in interviewing adults.
This training in particular focuses on:
- Belgian and European legislation, directives, provisions and the legislation on guardianship;
- the principle of the higher interest of the child;
- the phases in children's development and the different levels of maturity;
- the functioning of children’s memory;
- indicators of vulnerability in children;
- the position of a child in the different cultures and intercultural communication with children;
- child-specific forms of persecution.
Adapted interview method
For both the accompanied child who filed an application on his own behalf and the unaccompanied child, the personal interview will take place according to an adapted interview method. For instance, the personal interview takes place in a separate interview room. The protection officer adapts his language to the child and encourages it to tell as much as possible of its story spontaneously, from the perspective of its own perception. In doing so, he avoids asking closed questions as much as possible to avoid influencing the child. During the personal interview the child can draw or use other tools to clarify its story. The child can request a break whenever it needs one. The interpreters who assist the children during the interview have also received specific training.
Fig. - Welcome and hearing room for minors.