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Considering the Best Interests of a Child Within a Family Seeking Asylum

This report from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) examines how the best interests of children in asylum-seeking families are considered throughout the asylum procedure in the United Kingdom. The report expands upon the findings of an audit of the quality of asylum decisionmaking in 45 family claims, the results of which were published in June 2013.

The report is a product of the Quality Integration (QI) Project – the second phase of a joint UNHCR and UK Government collaborative endeavour aimed at improving the quality of the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure in the UK. In 2011 UNHCR was requested by the UK Government’s Home Office to undertake an audit of RSD decisions in family claims. Together, the Home Office and UNHCR agreed that UNHCR’s audit would include an assessment of, and commentary on, the Home Office’s methodology for assessing and determining the best interests of any child within an asylum seeking family. It was agreed that this would encompass not only the assessment and determination of the child’s best interests as the family moves through the asylum procedure but also how the determination of the best interests of any child is then factored into any decision resulting from a consideration of the family’s asylum claim which will have a direct impact upon the child. The current report sets out the findings of this particular aspect of the audit.

Based on the findings of the audit, UNHCR provides recommendations with a view to strengthening the mechanisms by which children’s best interests are assessed and determined as well as how that determination is given primary consideration when undertaking actions and making decisions that affect the child.