In 2014 and 2015, the Children’s Unit at the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat is organising five expert meetings in cooperation with partners in Europe and beyond with support from the EU Return Fund. The aim of the Child exploitation: Cross-national child protection in practice ‘PROTECT children on the move’ project is to identify child rights standards and key agencies responsible for protecting children exposed to exploitation and trafficking in cross-border situations. The outcomes will include a report and an online tool. The first expert meetingaddressed best interest assessment/determination.
The second Expert Meeting was convened in Riga, Latvia, on 13-14thMay and focused on the theme Returns and Transfers: International and European standards, procedures and safeguards for children exposed to exploitation, trafficking and children at risk.
Approximately fifty experts attended, representing local and national authorities, UN Agencies, national and international NGOs, service providers and practitioners from the Nordic and Baltic States and Member States of the European Union and the Council of Europe. They participated in giving valuable input to the understanding of progress and challenges in transfer and return cases of children.
A summary of the key outcomes and recommendations and a detailed conference report are available below as well as the power point presentations.
Session I: Introduction
Keynote speech: A rights-based perspective on transnational protection
Andrea Vonkeman, UNHCR, Belgium
Session II: Access to information, legal assistance for children, and the right to be heard in the host country
Georgia Dimitropoulou, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Austria
Bente Oftedal Roli, Lawyer, Norway
Ann-Christin Cederborg, University of Stockholm, Sweden
Iara de Witte, Defence for Children/ECPAT, Netherlands
Session III: Detention of accompanied and unaccompanied children in the host country
Alice Farmer, Human Rights Watch, USA
Andy Elvin, Children and Families Across Borders, UK
Session IV: Family tracing and risk assessment in transnational cases of children exposed to exploitation
Andrea Vonkeman, UNHCR, Belgium
Irina Todorova, International Organization for Migration, Belgium
Igna Oomen, Lawyer, Netherlands
Christoph Braunschweig, Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service ISS
Session V: Transfers within Europe – Implications for asylum seeking children and families (Dublin III Regulation)
Power Point: Transfers within Europe: Implications for asylum seeking children and families (Dublin III Regulation) Speech: The framework and key issues
Rebecca O’Donnell, Child Circle
Germa Lourens, Nidos, Independent guardianship and family supervision agency, Netherlands
Odeta Tarvydiene, State child protection and adoption service, Lithuania
Session VI: Returning, reception services and follow-up – Prevention of re-trafficking
Jan Murk, UNICEF, Netherlands
Emily Bowerman, Refugee Support Network, UK
Dr. Olga Kolpakova, Head of Prevention Programs, NGO Stellit, Russia
European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors, ERPUM II
Susanne Bäckstedt, European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors, Swedish Migration Board
Click here for pictures from the event
Click here to access the report and presentations from the first Expert Meeting on Case assessment and best interest determination: Special considerations and procedures in transnational cases of children exposed to exploitation, trafficking and children at risk
The third expert meeting will take place in Vilnius, Lithuania 9th-10th of September on the topic Returns and Transfers in Practice: Case examples of children exposed to exploitation and trafficking and children at risk
The project is funded by the European Return Fund – Community Actions of the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs and the Council of the Baltic Sea States.