On 19 May 2017 in Nicosia, Cyprus, during the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers, 47 European states adopted an Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019).
“Today, the Council of Europe has agreed on concrete action on protecting refugee and migrant children fleeing war, violence and persecution. We must prevent children from falling victims to violence, abuse, exploitation and trafficking, this is a moral imperative” said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.
Coordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Boček, the Council of Europe-wide Action Plan aims at addressing the main concerns identified in the Special Representative’s Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children.
The Action Plan proposes concrete support to member states at all stages of the migration process, with a special focus on unaccompanied children, and has three main pillars:
- ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures;
- providing effective protection;
- enhancing the integration of children who would remain in Europe.
The measures to be taken in protecting the refugee and migrant children include: new guidelines regarding age assessment and guardianship, alternatives to detention and a handbook on promoting child-friendly information and training on child-friendly procedures.
Different sectors of the Council of Europe will contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan, including those dealing with children’s rights, education, sports, youth participation and the media. The Action Plan takes into account complementarity and co-operation with the European Union and other key partners.