Unaccompanied minors

Unaccompanied minors represent a specific and particularly vulnerable group of migrants. These children usually do not leave their country of origin and their family due to a desire for adventure or based on their own decision. The law socio-legal protection of children defines an unaccompanied minor as a child who is not a Slovak Republic citizen and who is present in the teritorry of the Slovak Republic unguarded by a parent or any other adult physical person to whose care he/she might have been entrusted.

In the European context, an equivalent of the term „unaccompanied minors“ is „separated children“. It is a term commonly used also by Separated children in Europe Programme (SCEP) – the largest programme of assistance to separated children within Europe, started in 1997 as a common initiative of Save the Children International and UNHCR. Separated children can seek refuge in another country because of their fear from persecution, lack of protection due to human rights violation, armed conflicts or disorder in their home country. They may be victims of trafficking for sexual or other expolitation or they may arrive to Europe to avoid conditions of severe deprivation. Simply said, unaccompanied minor foreigners are children and young people up to age of 18, who are not citizens of the Slovak Republic, presently outside of their country of origin or usual residence, and separated from their parents or legal guardians.

Experiences up to now have shown that unaccompanied minors found in the territory of the Slovak Republic are mostly children arriving from the so-called third countries. Detected right after crossing the state borders or later in the area of the Slovak Republic, they usually cannot identify themselves with any documents. They are found alone, in company with other minor foreigners or adults, who, however, are not their parents. Their parents or other closest adult family members alive are in most cases present in the country of origin or in the territory of another state, in some cases the minor foreigners do not have any information about them and their current location.

Human Rights League has been providing legal assistance to unaccompanied minors as a particular group of migrants and their guardians since 2009. Apart from that, in the past couple of years we have conducted research, analysis and comparative studies of specific legal issues related to unaccompanied minors, with the outcome of issuing several publications. These are available for download at the section Publications.

Human Rights League is a member of Separated children in Europe Programme (SCEP).