”The cost of alternatives is much lower than that of migration detention. In addition, alternatives are less dangerous than detention; for the children themselves, in terms of the harm that deprivation of liberty inevitably causes. They are also less dangerous for our societies; the message they deliver is about containing intolerance; about decreasing social tension; and ultimately about preserving the integrity and credibility of our institutions, our belief in human rights and the rule of law, our democratic values”, said the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe, Christos Giakoumopoulos.
The international conference Immigration Detention of Children: Coming to a Close? was organised in Prague on 25 and 26 September 2017 by the Czech chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.
It brought together leading human-rights experts, officials from member states and civil society representatives who discussed international standards, good practices and findings from the field, in order to identify ways of promoting alternatives to the migration detention of children. The themes explored included the vulnerability of migrant children and the huge psychological impact that detention has on them. The opening panel on experiences from the ground included Pinar Aksu, who sought asylum in the United Kingdom as a child and who contributed a first-hand account of the effects of migration detention.
On the final panel, the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Boček, stressed " the need for an alliance of actors that will push for change, including enlightened government leaders who will take the lead at European level, parliamentarians engaging in campaigns like that of PACE, lawyers prepared to initiate strategic litigation before the European Court of Human Rights, committed NGOs, and, most importantly, state officials, civil servants and advisors, who will be convinced themselves of the need to limit the migration detention of children".
The conference is the first concrete step towards the implementation of the recently adopted Council of Europe Action Plan in Protecting Migrant and Refugee children.
The conference was opened by Czech Minister of Justice Robert Pelikán and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks delivered a keynote speech.