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Call To Guard Rights: Child Refugees And Trans-Gender Folk In Europe …

  • September 2nd, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

council_of_europe_logosvg.pngThe Council of Europe has heard cautionary words about the rights of refugee children, and of transgender persons in European countries.

The Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, published the comments (31.8.10) in a commentary on human rights.


“The asylum policies in Europe largely ignore children among refugees and government should better protect them”, he said.

“Migrant children are often not listened to and rather treated as if they were possessions belonging to their parents.

“It is often forgotten that they could have their own reasons for seeking protection.”

His commentary states that when children arrive in a family group, the parents are regularly interviewed about grounds for their asylum application, while often the minors are not given the opportunity to spell out their reasons.

When they arrive unaccompanied, the migration authorities tend to focus only on how to bring them back to their parents, ignoring that they have in many cases escaped from their country with the full support of their family.

In cases when authorities do intend to interview children more seriously, there appears to be a lack of capacity to do this in a meaningful manner, due to obstacles such as language and cultural barriers, and effects of trauma.

“The  appointment of guardians defending the interests of individual children, as now proposed by the European Commission, is one step in the right direction”, Mr Hammarberg said.


The Commissioner has declared also that rights of transgender persons are being ignored or violated, with stronger actions needed to eradicate discrimination against them.

“Transgender persons face obstacles in obtaining legal recognition of their preferred gender”, he said.

“Some Council of Europe member states still have no provision at all for official recognition, leaving transgender people in a legal limbo.

“Worse, most member states still use medical classifications which impose the diagnosis of mental disorder on transgender persons.”

“Very common are also provisions which set unreasonable and unjustified conditions, such as forced divorce and forced sterilisation.

“These requirements clearly run against the principles of human rights and human dignity …

“However, some signs of improvement also begin to appear.

“The Irish government plans to introduce legislation to recognise transgender persons in their preferred gender including the possibility for them to obtain new birth certificates.

“There are indications that other countries might follow and improve their legal framework for transgender persons, such as Portugal, Hungary and the Netherlands.”


The Council of Europe based at Strasbourg is a long-standing international organisation with 47 member countries, representing 800-million citizens.

It acts for protection of human rights especially through the Euroepan Court of Human Rights, and organioses cooperation  in  several fields notably regulation of pharmaceutical standards for medicines across the Euroepan continent.


Council of Europe, Refugee children should have a genuine chance to seek asylum, 31.8.10, ref. 607(2010);, (2.9.10).

Council of Europe, Forced divorce and sterilisation – a reality for many transgender persons, 31.8.10, ref. 615(2010)., (2.9.10).

Wikipedia, Council of Europe., (2.9.10).