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’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.

Co-ordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Boček, the Action Plan addresses the primary concerns identified in the Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children.

The Action Plan focuses on three key pillars to ensure the better protection of children:

  • Ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures.
  • Providing effective protection.
  • Enhancing the integration of children into host societies.

The Children’s Rights Division will carry out and support a number of the activities foreseen in the Action Plan, such as the development of new guidelines on age assessment and guardianship, a handbook on promoting child-friendly information, and training on child-friendly procedures.

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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2nd and final meeting of the working group charged with drafting a Handbook for professionals on child-friendly information for children in migration on access to rights and procedures

30-31 May Strasbourg

The Council of Europe, under the Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021) and the Council of Europe Action Plan (2017-2019), held the second and final working group on a handbook on child-friendly information for children in migration in Strasbourg on 30-31 May 2018. The working group is...

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New study released on children’s views about the information they received about migration

31 May Strasbourg

The Council of Europe has published an empirical study based on the findings of workshops that took place in Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece and Hungary in 2017. Children on the move and otherwise affected by migration were asked to share their views and recommendations about the information they...

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New web-page: child-friendly information for children in migration and life projects

5 March 2018 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe has launched a web-page on child-friendly information in migration and life projects where you can find all the information, reports and multimedia resources linked to this topic. The Children’s Rights Division will continue supporting States to develop tools for...

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Working group meets to draft handbook on child-friendly information for children in migration

9-10 April 2018 Strasbourg

The first working group of experts to draft a handbook for professionals on child-friendly information for children in migration on access to rights and procedures met on 9-10 April. This handbook is part of the Council of Europe Action plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019)....

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Call for applications: Handbook on child-friendly information for children in migration

27 February 2018 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe has launched a restricted consultation procedure to form a working group of 5 experts to draft a Handbook on child-friendly information for children in migration. This Handbook is part of the Council of Europe Action plan on protecting refugee and migrant children...

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