Protecting the rights of migrant and refugee children is a key priority of the Council of Europe, and an area particularly targeted for action in its Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021) and the Secretary General's proposal for priority actions (4 March 2016).

As stated in the Strategy, “children on the move, or otherwise affected by migration, remain one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe today”. Giving focus to the precarious situation of unaccompanied children, it highlights that “migrant children at large, even when accompanied by parents, often suffer persistent violations of their human rights”. The purpose of the Strategy is to illustrate a series of important gaps and problems which result in children falling through the loopholes of child protection/frameworks and/or children’s rights being violated, all of which need to be addressed.

The Council of Europe Secretary General’s priority actions focus on:

  1. Preventing migrant and asylum-seeking children from falling victims to violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking
  2. Making every effort to end the placement of children in immigration detention facilities
  3. Improving age assessment procedures
  4. Ensuring a gender dimension in dealing with migrant and asylum seeking children
  5. Ensuring access to education

The Committee of Ministers instructed the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF) (126th Session, May 2016), to propose further priority actions to ensure that special measures and safeguards are in place to protect unaccompanied and other children affected by the migrant and refugee crisis, in particular concerning standards on legal guardianship, age assessment and protective measures against trafficking in human beings.

In addition to the Parliamentary Assembly End Immigration Detention of Children Campaign, the targeted work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, and the Urgent monitoring round currently completed by the Lanzarote Committee on the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, numerous other sectors of the Council of Europe have used their respective potential to contribute to the protection of the rights of the children affected by the crisis.

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Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children adopted

19 May 2017 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe’s Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019) was adopted by the 47 member States of the Organisation at the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Nicosia, Cyprus, on the 19 May 2017. “Today, the Council of Europe has agreed on concrete...

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Italy called to improve the situation of migrant children

8 March 2017 Strasbourg

“Italy should improve its asylum reception-capacity and integration policies, prevent human trafficking and combat corruption in the migration-related services sector” are the main recommendations in a report published today by the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and...

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High level meeting

Europe’s challenge to ensure a rights perspective for children in migration

24 April 2017 Stockholm, Sweden

The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Boček, will deliver a keynote speech at a high-level meeting on the rights of the child migrants in Europe. Sweden’s Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality will participate along with European...

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Monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures

11-12 April 2017 Strasbourg

The Children’s Rights Division, as part of the joint-project with the Parliamentary Assembly to end immigration detention of children, organised a pilot training seminar on monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures. Taking place in...

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Council of Europe calls on Hungary to reconsider new law that risks exposing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to sexual violence

24 March 2017 Strasbourg

In a letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Claude Janizzi, the Chairperson of the Council of Europe Lanzarote Committee expressed his concern that the adopted law – “On the amendment of certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border...

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