UN Committee on the Rights of the Child underlines the primacy of the child’s best interests in a Finnish asylum case

On 4 February 2021, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its Views on the primacy of the best interests of the child in a matter concerning asylum. The Committee found that there had been violation of Articles 3 (primacy of the best interests of the child), 19 (protection of the child from violence) and 22 (right of the child to protection and humanitarian assistance; refugees and asylum seekers) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The case is about the expulsion of a same-sex parent family to Russia, where they had returned through voluntary return in August 2017 following a negative asylum decision. The appellant is the child of the family. The Committee considers that the State party has neglected its obligation to take sufficient account of the primacy of the best interests of the child when assessing the appellant’s asylum appeal.

The Committee recalls that the primacy of the best interests of the child must be assessed and justified in all decisions concerning the child. Making general reference to the best interests of the child in an asylum decision without taking due account of the appellant’s views shows a failure to consider the special characteristics of the appellant’s situation and to assess the risk of a serious violation of the rights of the child under the Convention.

The Committee considers that when adopting the asylum decision in question the State party neglected its obligation to ensure that the appellant will not face a real risk of serious harm, such as violence or harassment, in his home country. The Committee further notes that, when making their decision, the Finnish authorities failed to take account of the applicant’s young age and the permanent impact that the bullying and stigmatisation caused by his mother’s sexual orientation will have on him.

The Committee decided that the Finnish Government must provide an effective reparation for the infringement, including adequate compensation for the appellant. The Finnish Government is also obliged to take all necessary measures to prevent similar violations in the future, in particular by ensuring that the primacy of the best interests of the child will be taken into account effectively and systematically in asylum procedures and that children will systematically be heard.

Finland must report to the Committee within eight months on the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s Views.

Inquiries: Krista Oinonen, Director, Unit for Human Rights Courts and Conventions, tel. +358 295 351 172. The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format [email protected]