The Council of Europe HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children was launched for Greek lawyers in Athens on 10 December 2018. The event was organised in collaboration with the Athens Bar Association and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) Athens.
The course has been developed and launched in collaboration with the Office of the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Boček. The course is one of the measures implementing the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019). Some 30 members of the Athens Bar Association will be following the course over the next three months.
The event was opened and participants were welcomed by Dimitrios Vervesos, President of the Athens Bar Association, who stressed the importance of protecting refugee and migrant children and how essential such efforts are in Greece. Thomas Kamenopoulos, Special Advisor of the President of the Athens Bar Association, former Vice President of the Athens Bar Association, further emphasised the relevance of this topic while stressing the value the Athens Bar Association holds for such training initiatives for legal professionals.
The participants were given an introduction to the HELP Programme and activities by Ana-Maria Telbis, Senior Project Coordinator with HELP, and an overview of the Council of Europe’s Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children and its implementation by Douglas Maxwell, project officer with HELP.
The participants also benefitted from two high quality thematic presentations. Theodora Tsovili, Senior Protection Assistant at UNHCR Greece, delivered an insightful and practical exploration of the situation asylum seekers and migrants encounter in Greece and the related work of the UNHCR; while Maria Andriani Kostopoulou, member of the HELP Consultative Board and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Council of Europe for the Rights of the Child, provided a detailed examination of the Strasbourg Court’s case law in this field, with a particular focus on those issues of relevance for the Greek context.
Finally, Danai Angeli, course Tutor and co-author and Lecturer at Bilkent University, introduced the course in detail to the participants, covering the course content and methodology and working with them on their expectations and learning objectives.
The participants were also able to engage in a roundtable and extensive debate with the speakers and their colleagues, where an enthusiastic discussion covered a wide range of issues on the protection of Refugee and Migrant Children in Greece and Europe, and saw the exchange of first hand experiences on the practical, legal, and procedural challenges faced.
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
- Age assessment
The course Refugee and Migrant Children is available in the HELP online platform in English and will be available in Arabic, Azerbaijani, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish, with more to follow.