Protecting the rights of migrant and refugee children is a key priority of the Council of Europe, and an area particularly targeted for action in its Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021) and the Secretary General's proposal for priority actions (4 March 2016).

As stated in the Strategy, “children on the move, or otherwise affected by migration, remain one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe today”. Giving focus to the precarious situation of unaccompanied children, it highlights that “migrant children at large, even when accompanied by parents, often suffer persistent violations of their human rights”. The purpose of the Strategy is to illustrate a series of important gaps and problems which result in children falling through the loopholes of child protection/frameworks and/or children’s rights being violated, all of which need to be addressed.

The Council of Europe’s Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019) was adopted by the 47 member States of the Organisation at the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Nicosia, Cyprus, on the 19 May 2017.

Co-ordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Boček, the Action Plan addresses the primary concerns identified in the Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children.

The Action Plan focuses on three key pillars to ensure the better protection of children:

  • Ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures.
  • Providing effective protection.
  • Enhancing the integration of children into host societies.

The Children’s Rights Division will carry out and support a number of the activities foreseen in the Action Plan, such as the development of new guidelines on age assessment and guardianship, a handbook on promoting child-friendly information, and training on child-friendly procedures.

The Committee of Ministers instructed the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF) (126th Session, May 2016), to propose further priority actions to ensure that special measures and safeguards are in place to protect unaccompanied and other children affected by the migrant and refugee crisis, in particular concerning standards on legal guardianship, age assessment and protective measures against trafficking in human beings.

In addition to the Parliamentary Assembly End Immigration Detention of Children Campaign, the targeted work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, and the Urgent monitoring round currently completed by the Lanzarote Committee on the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, numerous other sectors of the Council of Europe have used their respective potential to contribute to the protection of the rights of the children affected by the crisis.

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ENOC Conference and AGM: Mental health of children on the move

19 September 2018 Paris, France

The Head of Division and Programme co-ordinator for Children's rights at Council of Europe, Ms Regina Jensdottir, will participate in the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) Annual Conference and General Assembly meeting. The main topic of discussion is the mental health of...

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Roundtable on “Delivering real change: effectively protecting refugee and migrant children’s rights”

13-14 December 2018 Strasbourg

Because they are one of the most vulnerable groups of people in Europe, refugee and migrant children are a particular concern for the Council of Europe when it comes to defending children’s rights. In association with the Special Representative, the Children’s rights division has therefore...

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Council of Europe launches Handbook on child-friendly information for children in migration

18 December 2018 Strasbourg

Children in migration have the right to be informed about their rights and the procedures affecting them. Such information is crucial uphold the child’s right to be heard and to participate in procedures affecting them. Children in migration face additional barriers in access to information that...

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Declaration of the Lanzarote Committee on protecting refugee and migrant children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse

28 June 2018 Strasbourg

In the light of on-going events at the US/Mexican border, the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention) released today a Declaration on protecting refugee and migrant children...

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Call for applications : Child consultations on age assessment procedures in the context of immigration and asylum procedures

26 July 2018 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe has launched a call for applications to implement child consultations with children who have experienced age assessment in the context of immigration or asylum procedures. The consultations will focus on the rights of the child that should govern age assessment and how these...

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