Council of Europe launches training for legal professionals on refugee and migrant children in Spain

Barcelona 23 November 2018
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© Escuela Judicial

© Escuela Judicial

The Council of Europe HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children was launched for Judges, Prosecutors and Lawyers in Spain on 23 November 2018, by the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General on Migration and Refugees (SRSG), Tomáš Boček, and the Council of Europe Programme for Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP). The event was organised in collaboration with the Spanish Bar Association (Consejo General de la Abogacía Española) and the Spanish Judicial Council (Consejo General del Poder Judicial) in the premises of the Spanish Judicial School (Escuela Judicial).

Judges and lawyers in Europe are facing new challenges in their daily work in the context of asylum and migration, and this select group of around 30 legal professionals will be following a combined programme featuring the new course on Refugee and Migrant Children alongside a general course on Asylum and the European Convention of Human Rights. Both courses cover the existing European and international standards and address the critical issues being faced by legal professionals in the migration context. They have been further specifically adapted to the Spanish legal system and national context.

“As Spain continues to be the main entry point to Europe, this tailor-made course gives legal professionals the opportunity to access solutions to complex legal situations, arising from the large arrivals of migrants and refugees. The effective access to asylum processes, collective expulsions and overcrowding are common concerns for many member States. However, these situations are possible to manage, keeping a balance between security issues and the protection of human rights of refugees and migrants”, said Eva Pastrana, Head of HELP Unit.

“I am particularly concerned by the situation of migrant and refugee children. During my missions, I have seen that there is a need for improvement concerning accommodation, age-assessment, guardianship and support in their transition to adulthood. Therefore, I am pleased to launch this course here in Barcelona, which is the first of its kind in the migration context,” said the Special Representative.

The HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children is one of the measures implementing the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019) and a result of the Special Representative´s recommendation on the need for continued human rights training for legal professionals on asylum-related matters in Spain. The Asylum and the ECHR course was developed jointly with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The event was opened and participants were welcomed by Jorge Jiménez, Director of the Spanish Judicial School, who highlighted the increasing embedding of HELP courses in Spanish Judicial Training. Apart from a general presentation on the HELP Programme and the CoE’s Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children, participants had the chance to exchange their expectations and backgrounds.

Two high quality thematic presentations were delivered. Margarita de la Rasilla, Refugee Status Determination Associate with UNHCR Spain, delivered an insightful and practical exploration of the situation asylum seekers and migrants encounter in Spain and the related work of the UNHCR; while Salvador Cuenca Curbelo, Lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights, provided a detailed examination of the Strasbourg Court’s case law and jurisprudence in this field, with a particular focus on those issues of relevance for the Spanish context.

Finally Noemí Alarcón Velasco, course Tutor and co-author, and Vice-president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Committee on Migration, introduced the courses in detail to the participants, engaging with them on the content and methodology and working with them on their expectations and learning objectives.

The HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children explains how critical issues are addressed in the international and European legal framework and provides an overview of the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. It allows legal and other professionals to improve their knowledge and skills on the existing standards in this area and to apply them in their daily work.

The course covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to the legal framework
  • Child-friendly procedures
  • Alternatives to detention
  • Family reunification
  • Social rights and integration
  • Guardianship
  • Age assessment

It is available in the HELP online platform in English and will be translated into Greek, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, with more translations and launches to follow. The next launch will be in Athens in December 2018.

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