IATE term of the week: Guardianship

October 23, 2015 10:20 am


On October 18 social media platforms were invaded with messages against slavery and human trafficking to raise awareness of this cruelty on the EU Anti-Trafficking Day (established in 2007). One of the main focuses of the conference organized by the European Commission in this regard was on child protection. And in line with this, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has recently released a detailed report (also available as a handbook in all official EU languages) on Guardianship systems for children deprived of parental care in the European Union, pointing out the cases of ” those (children) at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking or other forms of violence and exploitation”. How should the term ‘guardianship’ be defined in this context?

When searching for ‘guardianship’ in IATE, the following definition is given: “All the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property” (Children Act 1989, UK). To contextualize the term, all fields in which a guardian has power are later specified “including choice of school, medical treatment, religious matters, health requirements and decisions about leaving the country.” (The Courts Service of Ireland).

Considering that 5.5 million children were estimated to be trafficked worldwide between the period of 2002-2011, at the time when ‘The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016’ was established, the guardianship system for children becomes a matter of special attention in all Member States. According to the description given in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which entered into force in 1990, those children should be in need of such a guardianship “who are temporarily or permanently deprived of their family environment and cannot have their interests represented by their parents”.

We have chosen ‘guardianship’ as the IATE term of the week, but we also recommend you to have a look at some of the other keywords related to child victims of trafficking included in the FRA’s handbook mentioned above (find the full entry in IATE here).

Key terminology on child victims of trafficking
Child: a child “shall mean any person below 18 years of age.” Anti-Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU), Article 2 (6); see also CRC, Article 1. “Where the age of the [victim] is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that the victim is a child, that person is presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection”.

Victim of trafficking: a ‘victim of trafficking’ is a natural person who has been subject to trafficking in human beings as defined in Article 2 of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU).

Exploitation: “Exploitation shall include, as a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, including begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the exploitation of criminal activities, or the removal of organs.” When such conduct “involves a child, it shall be a punishable offence of trafficking in human beings even if none of the means set forth in paragraph 1 has been used.” Anti-Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU), Article 2.

Unaccompanied child: an ‘unaccompanied minor’ is a child “who arrives on the territory of the Member States unaccompanied by an adult responsible for him or her whether by law or by the practice of the Member State concerned, and for as long as he or she is not effectively taken into the care of such a person; it includes a [child] who is left unaccompanied after he or she has entered the territory of the Member States.” Qualification Directive (2011/95/EU), Article 2 (l)

Separated child: a ‘separated child’ is a child who has been separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary primary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives. These may, therefore, include children accompanied by other adult family members. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 6 CRC/GC/2005/6 and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (UN Alternative care guidelines) A/HRC/11/L.13), paragraph 8 The Separated Children in Europe Programme (SCEP) uses the word ‘separated’ rather than ‘unaccompanied’ because it more accurately defines the essential problem that such children face, namely that they lack the care and protection of their parents or primary caregiver and, as a consequence, suffer socially and psychologically from this separation. In this handbook, the term ‘unaccompanied’ will be used to refer to both unaccompanied and/or separated children, in order to be in line with the terminology ‘unaccompanied’ used in EU law and avoid possible confusions and inconsistencies.

Guardian: a guardian is an independent person who safeguards a child’s best interests and general well-being, and to this effect complements the limited legal capacity of the child. The guardian acts as a statutory representative of the child in all proceedings in the same way that a parent represents his or her child. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 6 CRC/GC/2005/6 and the UN Alternative care guidelines A/HRC/11/L.13


Read our IATE term of the week from last year on human trafficking here.

Contribute to IATE! A terminologist for the respective language will revise your answer and decide whether to validate them. Given the implications of the process, a delay is to be expected.




Written by Ana Escaso Moreno
Trainee at TermCoord
Journalist & Social Media manager


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