Date : 15/3/2011

The lecture will discuss the obstacles to asylum that children, particularly unaccompanied or separated children, encounter. It will argue that children, contrary to what one might expect, face greater obstacles than adults in securing permanent protection when they flee persecution. This is not, as has often been argued, because they are invisible, but because poliy makers and implementing officials are ambivalent about the appropriate stance towards these minors. They are torn between a protective approach, based on the children’s position as unaccompanied, alien minors, and a punitive position based on the perception that these children are in essence juvenile delinquents, or threats. The lecture will consider some recent human rights caselaw relevant to child asylum seekers, and probe the extent to which the notion of “child persecution” has been developed. Jacqueline Bhabha is the Jeremiah Smith Jr lecturer in law at Harvard Law School, the Director of Research at the François Bagnoud Xavier Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard and the University Adviser on Human Rights Education to the Provost at Harvard University. She is also a lecturer on public policy at Harvard Kennedy School. From 1997 to 2001, she directed the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago. She works on issues of transnational child migration, trafficking, adoption, children’s economic and social rights and citizenship and has published extensively on issues of migration, refugee protection, children’s rights and citizenship.