On 17 January 2012, the Children’s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, issued a report on the treatment of unaccompanied children arriving in Dover from France. It appears that the children, sometimes trafficked children, were being sent back to France under a Gentleman’s Agreement dating from 1995. The Agreement had continued to be operated between the two countries notwithstanding significant developments in international, European and domestic law on the duties of states to protect the best interests of children. The continuing operation of the Agreement has no lawful basis in international or domestic law. The Commissioner has been working closely with the Home Office in recent months and her efforts have resulted in the immediate suspension of the operation of the Agreement. These developments underline the many areas of law and practice in which European States are failing to respect their international obligations to children. 

Manjit S. Gill QC, instructed by Syd Bolton of the Children’s Legal Centre, advised the Children’s Commissioner  on the legality of the continuing operation of the Gentleman’s Agreement.

For more information, please view the Children’s Commissioner publication or the BBC News report.