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Rights of undocumented children in Curaçao severely under threat

Research conducted by the University of Leiden and the University of Curaçao found that the rights of undocumented children in Curaçao, mostly from Venezuela, are severely under threat, which does not trigger rigorous actions by the Curaçaoan and Dutch authorities.

The research (in Dutch) titled ‘De rechten van ongedocumenteerde kinderen in Curaçao – Een gezamenlijke verantwoordelijkheid’ (the rights of undocumented children in Curaçao – a joint responsibility) conducted by Chrisje Sandelowsky-Bosmanprof. Ton Liefaarddr. Stephanie Rap and prof. Flora Goudappel elicits the legal and social situation of undocumented children in Curaçao. It analyses their rights and freedoms within the constitutional constellation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. An important question in that regard is how Curaçaoan and Dutch authorities comply with their responsibilities in that regard, invidually and jointly. The results, flowing from desk research and exploratory field work, provide a basis for a better protection of international children’s rights within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, especially of those who are undocumented in Curaçao.   

The research reveals that based on current migration laws of Curaçao, these children have barely a chance to legalise their stay. With that, they are hampered in their access to primary living needs. There is no (emergency) shelter available, they are not insured for health care and school is for some inaccessible. Some of them land in institutions, which means they are deprived of their liberty.

These children find themselves in Curaçao, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands that is party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties. Within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, both Curaçao and the Netherlands are jointly responsible for the implementation of their rights. This research shows, however, that this joint responsibility is not operationalised. The researchers recommend to interpret this joint responsibility in a dynamic way, which was recommended before by the Dutch Council of State. This means that the Curaçaoan and Dutch authorities should decide upon the minimum level of protection of these children (in accordance with the rights of these children) and where necessary the Netherlands assist in the implementation thereof. The studied perceptions of Curaçaoan and Dutch politicians, however, do not elicit a sense of urgency to realise this. They do seem to find each other in the wish to prevent further migration from Venezuela.

The book (in Dutch), published by Boom Uitgevers  is relevant for civil servants and other professionals working for undocumented children in Curacao or with the implementation of children’s rights within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is also relevant for researchers and students interested in international children’s rights and the constitutional setting of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The book is part of the ‘Meijers reeks’ of the ‘E.M. Meijers Instituut voor Rechtswetenschappelijk Onderzoek’ of Leiden Law School. The research was made possible by the ‘Schimm van der Loeff Fonds’ and Leiden University Fund.

The book includes a summary  in Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento.

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