On 15 December, the second transnational roundtable took place in Paris. Professionals with a background in migration law, international family law and/or children’s rights law from Belgium, France and the Netherlands came together to discuss how kafala is treated in their country. They exchanged views about the challenges they face and the possibilities for improvement.

The roundtable began with a presentation by Nadjma Yassari (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law Hamburg) on the status of the child in the Muslim region. She showed that it is important to keep in mind that the legal consequences of a kafala vary from country to country. Then Jinske Verhellen, Susan Rutten and Cécile Corso gave an overview of the Belgian, Dutch, and French legal frameworks.

The presentations and subsequent discussions showed that Belgium, France and the Netherlands face challenges in dealing with a kafala. A first point of discussion was how to qualify the kafala. It is clear that a kafala is not an adoption. In practice, however, the focus is still on converting a kafala into an adoption.

The participants agreed that the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention brought improvement in the recognition of a Moroccan judicial kafala. Some points for further improvement were mentioned. For example, the importance of raising more awareness about the cooperation mechanism of the Central Authorities under article 33 of the 1996 Hague Convention. There is ambiguity about how to deal with a kafala if it does not fall within the scope of the 1996 Hague Convention. This often means that kafala is not recognised. Therefore, the cooperation mechanism and recognition framework of the 1996 Hague Convention are considered an added value and ratification by more States is encouraged.

The roundtable also revealed that the way a kafala is treated in migration law differs in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. For instance, in France, the makful does not need a residence permit and in Belgium, the child is considered an unaccompanied minor.

In the third part, Giovanna Ricciardi presented the main findings of the ISS report on kafala of 2020. She elaborated on the challenges and solutions regarding kafala included in this report. In addition, this part included a discussion on the conclusions and recommendations of the Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the 1980 Child Abduction Convention and the 1996 Child Protection Convention of October 2023.

Overall, the roundtable contained rich discussions and the FAMIMOVE team would like to thank all participants for their participation and the open dialogue.

For more information, see the Section “About the Project” of FAMIMOVE website.

This blog has been authored by members of the University of Versailles Saint Quentin (Paris Saclay) team of the FAMIMOVE Project.

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