With Europe facing the second major refugee crisis in less than a decade, the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Committee has published ten compliance reports evaluating legislation, services and other measures in place for the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in 41 state Parties to the Lanzarote Convention. The reports focus on mechanisms for data collection, protection of child victims, prosecution of offenders, coordination between different actors and agencies, providing information to children, child-friendly proceedings, helplines for victims and measures related to cross-border missing children.
The situation in the European states has been evaluated against the recommendations of the Special report “Protecting children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”. While the recommendations were made in 2017, shortly after the first refugee crisis in Europe, their implementation regain relevance today, with more than 4 million refugees, half of them children, having fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian Federation’s aggression on 24 February 2022.
“When a large number of migrants and refugees arrive in new countries, after undergoing extremely difficult and potentially traumatic journeys, the most vulnerable persons, especially children, are often hit the hardest, and exposed to further risks, including the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Migration and Refugees, Leyla Kayacik. "Valuable examples of promising practices that can be replicated elsewhere, especially those focusing on missing children and preventive measures, are an illustration of how the Council of Europe supports member states in improving their responses to the current challenges", she added.
These compliance reports contribute to the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025), which is co-ordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees.