The guardian should instruct a suitably qualified and experienced lawyer or legal advisor to represent an unaccompanied child as soon as they become involved in a legal procedure. This should be done in cooperation with the child, if they have the necessary understanding of the proceedings. This will include, but not be restricted to, being charged with a criminal offence, being identified as a victim of human trafficking or exploitation, or needing to apply for international protection or immigration status in a country of destination1.
Training and tools
Information and examples of using lawyers
The CONNECT-project (2014) has developed the tool ‘Standards to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children are able to fully participate’ to assist all actors in legal and judicial proceedings. This includes standards for actors working with unaccompanied children. Standard two addresses the appointment of a lawyer and also includes some examples of noteworthy practices. The tool is available here.
The Netherlands: legal aid in the best interest of the child
Nidos, the national guardianship institution for all unaccompanied children in the Netherlands, has frequent contact with the Dutch Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand), an independent governing body set up by the Ministry of Justice and Security. The ministry is responsible for organising subsidised legal aid and for its supervision, and the Legal Aid Board is entrusted with this task and with implementing the legal aid system. Nidos arranges for lawyers who are experienced in providing legal assistance to unaccompanied children, monitors the work of the lawyers involved, and intervenes if the legal aid is not provided in the best interest of a particular child.
Croatia: free legal aid
According to the Croatian Law on International and Temporary Protection, unaccompanied children are entitled to free legal aid if they do not have their own funds. Representation is provided by lawyers who are on the list of providers of free legal aid. This is necessary for proceedings at the Administrative Court and in cases of restriction on freedom.