UK lawyers to protect Rights of Refugee and Migrant Children

London 19 November 2018
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© Council of Europe

© Council of Europe

The Council of Europe HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children was launched for Solicitors, Barristers and legal professionals in the United Kingdom on 13 November 2018 with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in the premises of the International Maritime Organisation.

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). Around 20 legal professionals from across the UK will be following the course over the next three months.

The event was opened and participants were welcomed by Peter Grady, chief legal officer for the UNHCR UK. He stressed the importance of judicial engagement and third party interventions in court proceedings for the UNHCR in fulfilling its supervisory responsibility under the 1951 Convention, and so welcomed the HELP course as a useful resource in this regard; and noted the importance of such training initiatives for legal professionals on the frontline of addressing the child protection issues that are facing Refugee an Migrant children who are arriving in Europe.

Following a general presentation on the HELP Programme by Eva Pastrana, head of the HELP Unit, the participants benefitted from a presentation and discussion with John Dorber, international consultant and co-author of the course, where they discussed the particular situation and legal context that Migrant and Refugee Children experience in the UK.

Following this, the participants were given an overview of the Council of Europe’s Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children and the current state of its implementation by Douglas Maxwell, project officer with HELP.

Participants also benefitted from two high quality thematic presentations. Delphine Leneutre, Legal Associate at the UNHCR Representation to the European Institutions in Strasbourg, delivered a detailed examination of the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights, providing participants with an extensive insight into the current jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court and highlighting the importance of the European Convention system in this is field.

Markella Popadouli, Europe Litigation Coordinator at the Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE) Centre, delivered an insightful and practical look at the role of strategic litigation in asylum and migration cases, including those involved children. She outlined a number of methods that can be taken when pursuing strategic litigation and addressed the considerations and practicalities that should be taken into account when pursuing such actions. She also provided a number of case law examples and highlighted the valuable impact on securing human rights protections that strategic litigation can produce.

The HELP course on Refugee and Migrant Children was developed in 2018 and 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 Barcelona, Spain, on 23 November 2018 for Judges and Lawyers.

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