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Advice of the Ombudsman for Children on the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill was published on 24 January 2008. Its purpose is to restate and modify certain aspects of the law relating to the entry into, presence in and removal from the State of certain foreign nationals, including those in need of protection from the risk of serious harm or persecution.

While there are some positive aspects of this Bill, our principal concern was that it does not sufficiently take account of the particular vulnerability of children and of the need to provide them with special assistance and protection. Children who seek protection in this State – especially separated children seeking asylum and child victims of trafficking – are among the most vulnerable in our society and face multiple barriers to the realisation of their rights. A general provision should be included in the Bill to the effect that children’s best interests shall be a primary consideration at all times and in all decisions affecting them.