Implementation of the Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019)
Ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures
Roundtable on child-friendly information for children in migration
On 29-30 November 2017, the Children´s Rights Division organised a roundtable on good and promising practices or examples of communication methods or tools used to inform children in migration about access to their rights and procedures.
On 31 May 2018, the Council of Europe published a study on children´s views on information they receive about migration.
A handbook on promoting child-friendly information for refugee and migrant children on access to rights and relevant procedures, including good practices
On 18 December 2018, a handbook on how to convey child-friendly information to children in migration was launched, aimed at all professionals and volunteers working with children in migration. It contains recommendations from children to improve communication and examples of promising practice. The handbook was launched in English, and will be translated into several languages.
A compilation of good practices on migration-related child-friendly procedures
Initiated by the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees in May 2018, and expected to be completed by end of June 2019.
HELP training course on the rights of refugee and migrant children
The preparation of the course was completed by the Council of Europe Programme on Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) in June 2018 and a Training of trainers session was held on 23‑24 May 2018.
The course has been launched in the United Kingdom (13 November 2018), Spain (23 November 2018), Greece (10 December 2018). Its launch in Italy and Turkey is scheduled for early 2019. The course is planned to be translated into Arabic, Azerbaijani, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish. The course consists of the following training modules: rights of refugee and migrant children, child-friendly procedures, access to social services (e.g., health, education, employment), family reunification, age assessment and guardianship, and alternatives to detention. A training-of-Trainers session was held 24-25 May 2018.
A practical guidance on solutions for statelessness
On 22-24 November 2017, at its 92nd plenary meeting, the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) examined the possibility of undertaking an activity aiming at implementing in practice the principle of avoiding statelessness in relation to child migrants. An ad hoc meeting of CDCJ members (or national experts) and key stakeholders will propose a step-by-step strategy of possible activities to be undertaken by the CDCJ within its next biennium, and if relevant, draft terms of reference.
On 14-16 November 2018, at its 93rd plenary meeting, CDCJ agreed to undertake preliminary review of protocols and procedures used by member states to determine and resolve cases of statelessness, in particular of migrant children. CDCJ also agreed to set up a working group of its members for the purpose of this review composed of 10 members and instructed its Bureau to agree its composition on the basis of expressions of interest and proposals from CDCJ members by 15 December 2018. On the same day, CDCJ adopted terms of reference for the working group. A detailed analysis of the review will be presented to the CDCJ for consideration at its plenary meeting in November 2019.
Providing effective protection
New guidelines on effective guardianship and age assessment
A Drafting Group of Experts on Children’s Rights and Safeguards in the context of migration (CAHENF-Safeguards) was set up to draft these guidelines.
On 16-18 October 2018, for the 5th meeting of the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF), the drafting Group of Experts on Children’s Rights and Safeguards (CAHENF-Safeguards) had completed the draft text of the Recommendation CM/REC(2018)x of the Committee of Ministers to member states on guiding principles and guidelines for an effective guardianship for unaccompanied and separated children in migration. The draft text was circulated to all delegations for a last round of comments. At the same meeting, CAHENF examined and approved unanimously the draft Recommendation, and discussed the elements of the draft explanatory memorandum, the preparation of which is still ongoing.
The draft text on Human Rights Principles and Implementing Guidelines on age assessment for children in migration is pending consultation with member states, and with children in migration in several states. The text will be subject to a last round of consultations in March 2019 before being communicated for approval by the CAHENF (21-22 May 2019).
The CAHENF will consider measures for follow-up action for the implementation of the guidelines following the adoption of the texts by the Committee of Ministers.
Draft instrument on standards of reception and accommodation of refugee and migrant children
Work is envisaged to be initiated by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH) in 2019 and completed in the biennium 2020-2021. On 23-25 October 2018, the Drafting Group on Migration and Human Rights (CDDH-MIG) held an exchange of views on the topic at its 5th meeting. On that occasion, the Group instructed the Rapporteur and the Secretariat to draft potential options and timelines for further work in this area to be discussed at the next meeting in March 2019.
A handbook on standards and good practices to restore family links and reunify families
Initiated by the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees in June 2018, the project is expected to be completed by end of June 2019.
Prague international conference to end the immigration detention of children
On 25 and 26 September 2017 in Prague, the international conference "Immigration Detention of Chidren: Coming to a Close?" took place, bringing 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.
On 28 January 2018 an Analysis of the legal and practical aspects of effective alternatives to detention in the context of migration was published by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH).
As of April 2018, several actions were initiated to promote alternatives to immigration detention: preparation of know-how and user-friendly materials on effective alternatives to detention (handbook and guidance), capacity building among professionals, and enhancing the overall awareness of good practices and lessons learnt in effectively implementing alternatives. On 5 July 2018 a joint event with the UNHCR in Sofia focused on relevant case law, Council of Europe, European Union and UNHCR action on alternatives to detention.
A handbook on alternatives to immigration detention
On 25-26 October 2018, at the 5th meeting of the CDDH-MIG, the 1st preliminary draft of the handbook "Alternatives to Immigration Detention: Practical Guidance" was discussed. Comments are to be conveyed in writing in advance of the next meeting on 26-28 March 2019, with the explicit aim to then conclude the work.
CPT factsheet on immigration detention
On 15 March 2017, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published a factsheet on immigration detention to present its standards based on hundreds of visits to places of immigration detention.
Guide for Parliamentarians visiting places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures
The guide was developed by the Children’s Rights Division in cooperation with Defence for Children International Belgium for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), it was launched on 11 October 2017.
Training for members of national parliaments and ombudspersons’ staff on visiting/monitoring places where children can be deprived of liberty as a result of migration procedures
Two training courses, organised by PACE and the Children’s Rights Division, took place in Strasbourg in April and November 2017. The course included participants from 14 member states and 2 states with observer status.
Conference on how to prevent and suppress smuggling of migrants, including children
On 23 June 2017, the Council of Europe organised an International Conference on Smuggling of Migrants. The event brought together experts and high-level representatives from member and observer states of the Council of Europe, as well as representatives of international organisations and academic experts. The participants in the conference discussed: best practices and concrete measures on how to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants; developing strategies for cooperation and information exchange; and protecting the rights of smuggled migrants.
Action for the implementation of the strategies for preventing and suppressing the smuggling of migrants
At its plenary session in December 2017 the CDPC decided to set up two expert working groups to analyse and propose follow-up action: the Working Group on Prevention of smuggling of migrants and the Working Group on fostering international co-operation and investigative strategies in fighting the smuggling of migrants.
Their first meetings took place on 20‑22 June 2018 in Paris. The WG on international co-operation agreed, among others, to further consider the opportunity to establish a Network of Prosecutors on Migrant Smuggling, to examine the setting up of a 24/7 points of contact for the expeditious exchange of information between law enforcement authorities, and to evaluate the setting up and/or contribution to a platform facilitating knowledge sharing. The WG on preventing measures focused on topical issues, including: data-collection and research; awareness raising; deterring migrant smugglers; and the synergy between smuggling of migrants and legal avenues of migration.
Based on the results of these first meetings, at its 75th plenary meeting on 27-29 November 2018, CDPC decided that the possible future activities of the WG on preventive measures should not remain in the remits of the CDPC because there is very little substantive elements directly related to its field of competence. The activity of the WG on international co-operation will continue.
The next meetings of the groups are scheduled at beginning of 2019.
Monitor to identify gaps and needs in the current procedures for the identification of victims of trafficking among migrant children and refugees
GRETA reports from May 2017 to September 2018 addressing the situation of refugee and migrant children, in particular unaccompanied and separated children: Thematic chapter on trafficking in children of the 6th General report, 7th General report, Belgium, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine
Seminar on combatting sexual exploitation of refugee and migrant children
On 13 June 2017 in Belgrade, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities organised the second seminar for local government associations focusing on the Congress Pact to stop the sexual exploitation of children.
Measures and follow-up action for the implementation of recommendations of Lanzarote Committee
On 3 March 2017 the Lanzarote Committee issued a Special Report “Protecting children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse”.
On 7-9 November 2018, at its 22nd meeting, the Committee took note of the analysis of the information submitted by Parties to outline the follow-up given to the 5 “urge” recommendations and provided an additional time-limit until 18 December 2018 for all parties to send information on how they comply with those recommendations. It will also exchange views on promising practices put in place to provide follow-up to the other recommendations of the special report at its 24th meeting, in 4-6 June 2019.
On 13-14 December 2018 the Children’s Rights Division, in association with the SRSG on migration and refugees, organised an international roundtable on “Delivering real change: effectively protecting refugee and migrant children’s rights” to discuss among others follow-up to the recommendations of the Lanzarote Committee’s Special report.
Enhancing refugee and migrant children's integration
Language support toolkit for adult refugees
The Education Department launched the toolkit in November 2017. The toolkit is currently available in 7 languages.
Following a call for proposals, 14 associations were selected following for their initiatives to focus on the translation and/or adaptation of the toolkit into the local/national context, training of volunteers/teachers of language courses for refugees and migrants, of social services’ interpreters, dissemination to other associations and NGOs as well as to local authorities involved in the reception and language and civic support of refugees, creation of communication and visibility tools, etc. Among these initiatives is a webinar training prepared with the participation of associations from 8 countries, and which is available for further free of charge use by the NGOs involved with the linguistic integration of migrants and refugees.
In addition, in December 2018 a consultation meeting took place in Rome, Italy with the participation of the selected European NGOs from 7 member states. The meeting provided an opportunity for the NGOs to present their diverse dissemination work and activities at local, regional and national level, to discuss ‘success stories’ and lessons learnt and to share insights and recommendations regarding the adaptability of the Toolkit.
The implementation period of these projects ran from 1 July to 30 November 2018.
A survey of member states’ experience on provision of language education to migrants and refugees
A survey on Language Policies and Language Requirements for Migrants in the member states is being undertaken by the Education Department in close cooperation with the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE). Its primary aim is to map the language requirements and knowledge of society (KoS) requirements for migrants in Council of Europe member states prior to entry, for residence and for citizenship with the aim of identifying trends in policies for the linguistic integration of migrants. A new feature in this survey is the particular attention dedicated to vulnerable groups, such as illiterate/low-literate migrants, women, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers and refugees.
The survey was launched in September 2018 with a time-limit for contributions on 10 November 2018.
Draft recommendation on the linguistic integration of migrants
The feasibility of a Recommendation on the linguistic integration of migrants to be analysed by the Steering Committee for Education Policy and Practice (CDPPE) in 2019 after a discussion on the level of implementation of the existing recommendations of the Committee of Ministers on this matter.
Collection of texts: Children and Adolescents from a migrant background: Integration and Education
European qualifications passport for refugees
On 14 November 2017 was adopted a Recommendation on the Recognition of qualifications held by refugees, displaced person, and persons in a refugee-like situation and its explanatory memorandum.
A pilot phase of the EQPR run by the Education Department in Greece in 2017 assessed 92 applications and issued 73 Passports. A more extensive, second phase of this project was launched on 28 March 2018 and will be run in 2018‑2020, with the participation of the national information centres on recognition of Armenia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The first two evaluation sessions under the second phase of the project took place in June and July 2018 in Greece and in Italy respectively, including 90 interviews and resulting in 54 passports. Additional sessions took place in October-November 2018 in the Netherlands (online video interviews on 29 October, 19-20 November 2018) and in Italy (12 to 16 November 2018).
A total of 188 passports have been issued since the start of the project, based on 234 interviews. 23 credential evaluators with a wide range of language competences have been trained so far on the EQPR methodology.
Life projects for unaccompanied migrant children
An online questionnaire for the review of implementation of the Recommendation CM/Rec/(2007)9 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on life projects for unaccompanied migrant minors has been circulated to member states in 2018. At its 5th meeting (23-25 October 2018), the CAHENF discussed and agreed that the deadline for submission of responses by member states should be 31 October 2018.
More materials on life projects.
Policy recommendations on assisting young refugees in their transition from childhood to adulthood
The Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) – following a decision by its 36th meeting (March 2017) – has drafted a Committee of Ministers’ recommendation to member states on supporting young refugees in transition to adulthood. At its 39th meeting (16-17 October 2018), the CMJ approved the draft recommendation. The text has been submitted to the Committee of Ministers.
Social inclusion of young refugees
On 9 and 10 October 2018, the Youth Department organised a Consultative Meeting to provide guidance and support to the preparation of a project and a Long Term Training Course (LTTC) on the social inclusion of young refugees. In November 2018, the Youth Department launched a project on the social inclusion of young refugees. The aim of the project is to reduce the risks of social exclusion and violence that young refugees, especially minors in transition to adulthood, are exposed to. The centre‐piece of the project is a long‐term training course for youth workers and young refugees active in reception and hosting centres or other social and educational facilities for or involving, young refugees. The introduction to this course took place from 25 November to 2 December 2018. The course will run through to December 2019.
Promoting diversity inclusiveness in mainstream media
On 28 February 2018, the Media and Internet Division published an explorative study on the needs of refugees and migrants in the domain of media communication “Spaces of Inclusion – needs for refugees and migrants in the domain of media communication and responses by community media” and in April 2018 a report concerning media on the massive arrival of refugees “Media coverage of the ‘refugee crisis’: A cross-European perspective.”
Integration through sports
In July 2017, the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) launched a migrant integration via sport platform. As of 2 January 2019 there are currently 49 projects, run in 21 countries in around 35 sport disciplines and therapeutic techniques, on the platform.