Children and migration
Refugee and Migrant Children are first and foremost children, States must respect their rights, including their right to information, their right to be heard and to a life free from violence.
The Council of Europe aims to ensure that all refugee and migrant children can benefit from the protection measures set out in international and European legal instruments and enjoy the full realisation of their rights in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention for Human Rights.
Protecting the rights of refugee and migrant children remains an ongoing challenge and a long-term commitment. Action in this area is guided by the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021), whose implementation is overseen by the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) as of January 2020.
In order to protect and promote the rights of children on the move, the Council of Europe has been guiding member states in taking a co-ordinated child rights-based approach to tackle this challenge. The Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019), coordinated by the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees, and implemented by 19 different bodies and divisions within the Council of Europe focused notably on ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, providing effective protection and enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe. Specific information on the actions implemented under each pillar of the Action Plan is available here.
The Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF) acts as a pan European platform for regular exchanges of knowledge, good practices and experiences to support the implementation of policy measures to protect unaccompanied and other children in the context of migration. Key policy areas addressed include:
- promoting good practices for the implementation of the CM/Rec(2019)11 on effective guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children in the context of migration;
- addressing the implementation of policies aimed at ensuring sustainable and durable solutions and the effective integrating of children affected by migration more generally, notably by reviewing the implementation of CM/Rec(2007)09 on life projects for unaccompanied migrant minors;
- developing soft law standards on human rights compliant age assessment procedures aimed at policy makers and professionals.
Numerous Council of Europe bodies monitor the situation of migrant children in Europe. Recognising the high risk of children affected by the refugee crisis being or becoming victims of sexual exploitation or abuse, the Lanzarote Committee decided to launch an urgent monitoring round and issued a series of recommendations on measures to be taken to improve or reinforce the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis against sexual abuse, and identified promising practices.
Child-friendly information for children in migration and life projects
This project supports member States to implement their obligations to inform children in migration in a child friendly way about their rights and to provide access to rights through child-friendly procedures, in line with the principles set out by the Council of Europe Guidelines on Child-friendly Justice. This project aims also to increase States’ capacities to implement durable solutions for children who will remain in Europe through implementation of life projects for unaccompanied children.
- Age assessment for children in migration - A guide for policy-makers (2019)
- How to convey child-friendly information to children in migration: A Handbook for frontline professionals (2019)
- Promoting child-friendly approaches in the area of migration: standards, guidance and current practices (2019)
Download the Children’s Rights Division Tools and Publications
End Immigration Detention of Children Campaign
The Children’s Rights Division carried out work in co-operation with the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly as part of the End Immigration Detention of Children Campaign. This project was supported through a voluntary contribution from the Government of Switzerland.
As part of this campaign, the Children’s Rights Division:
- Elaborated a training guide on monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures (EN - FR - AR).
- Elaborated a training programme for members of national parliaments and ombudspersons’ staff on monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures.
- Identified examples of age assessment policies, procedures and practices respectful of children's rights to support the work of the former Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child of the Council of Europe (CAHENF) on standards regarding age assessment.
This project aimed at further enhancing co-operation between parliaments, ombudspersons, competent government bodies and civil service in addressing problems relating to immigration detention of children.
The video animation on age assessment for children in migration developed jointly by the Council of Europe and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has been translated into Bambara, Wolof and Moroccan Arabic by the Spanish Ombudsperson’s Office. This animation seeks to inform children about...
Intervention of the Council of Europe Coordinator for the Rights of the Child at the final event of the Child-Friendly Justice - In Action Project
On 2 December 2020, Ms Regína Jensdóttir, the Council of Europe Coordinator on Children’s Rights, delivered a keynote speech at the Final event of the Child-Friendly Justice – In Action Project on promoting child-friendly justice for child migrants in the EU. She presented the Council of Europe’s...
Committee of Ministers adopts recommendation to make guardianship for unaccompanied children in migration situations more effective
The Committee of Ministers has adopted a Recommendation to member States on effective guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children in the context of migration. Migration puts children, especially unaccompanied or separated from their parents, in a very vulnerable position. Children are...
The Office of the Special Representative on migration and refugees is looking for examples of good or promising practices of migration-related procedures that are child-friendly. Selected examples will be published in a compilation of good practices being prepared under the Council of Europe...
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