Child exploitation: Cross-national child protection in practice – ‘PROTECT Children on the Move’

Children have better chances to be identified correctly and to receive appropriate support and care when they are given the opportunity to tell their stories and benefit from a best interests determination.

Since 2013, the CBSS has initiated regional consultation processes and involved several hundred officials and professionals in child welfare and protection, social and health care, law enforcement and the judiciary, education and immigration, the academia, specialised organisations as well as children and young people – in order to define concrete opportunities for achieving progress in the identification and referral of children at risk by emphasising basic child rights principles afforded under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

During 2014 and 2015, with co-financing from the EU Commission’s Return Fund, the Children’s Unit at the CBSS Secretariat organised 5 expert meetings to discuss the state of transnational child protection and to share best practices. In bringing more than 250 experts from across the Baltic Sea Region and beyond, the meetings aimed to identify child rights standards and key agencies responsible for protecting children exposed to exploitation and trafficking in cross border situations. The outcomes of the project will include a set of Guidelines for Promoting the Human Rights and the Best Interests of the Child in Transnational Child Protection Cases. The Guidelines are based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and give advice on how practitioners can work across both cross-sectoral and cross-national lines with the child’s human rights and best interest perspective as a common baseline.

A wiki on transnational child protection was also developed.

Project partners were the Latvian State Border Guard, the Stockholm Social Emergency Center, and the Lithuanian State Child Protection and Adoption Service.

The project was co-funded by the European Union Return Fund – Community Actions of the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs.

During 2016, with financing from the Nordic Council of Ministers Trafficking in Human Beings Programme, the CBSS will use the Guidelines described above to increase the capacity of professionals responsible for handling transnational child protection cases. With the support of experts from the Region, a series of 2-day trainings will inform law enforcement officials, child welfare officials, NGOs, and child rights advocates in the Baltic Sea Region on how to identify, protect and eliminate the risk of exploitation and trafficking for children on the move. Participants in the trainings will become better informed on how to enhance children’s rights to be heard feel supported and to prevent exploitation and trafficking. The States CBSS Secretariat was the lead partner on the implementation of the project. The project involved cooperation with experts in trafficking in human beings in the Baltic Sea Region, and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ offices in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

The second phase of the PROTECT project was co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The cooperation between the CBSS and Nordic Council of Ministers continued into 2018 with a workshop series focusing on challenges and opportunities in the identification and referral of children on the move who have been victims of exploitation or trafficking. In addition to receiving input from national level experts from the Baltic Sea Region, recommendations from children are presented at each workshop. The recommendations are the result of facilitated discussions with children who have been through challenging situations – thus enabling children’s voices to be heard on the expert and policy levels. The facilitated discussions with children is a pilot of a storytelling method of hearing the child which has been developed by the CBSS.  

Identification remains challenging not only because children may be exploited in hidden places but also because the child trafficking definition is complex and difficult to apply in practice. Identification is often guided by stereotypes, which could prevent the identification of child victims who do not fall into the groups typically considered to be victims of trafficking. Children themselves are often unaware of being in a process that ends in exploitation. For the child, official recognition as a victim holds opportunities for recovery. Given the complexity, the child’s story is the key to understanding what has happened, and interagency cooperation is essential to following up each individual case thoroughly.

The third phase of the PROTECT project was co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Oslo Conclusions on Identifying Children at Risk of Exploitation and Trafficking

Hearing the Child’s Story

The Oslo Conclusions on Identifying Children at Risk of Exploitation and Trafficking result from a multi-year process of analysis and consultation in the Baltic Sea Regioni and broader Europe. This regional process aimed to review evidence and learning about the situation of children at risk and existing measures to ensure their safety, wellbeing and development. One main learning is that children have better chances to be identified correctly and to receive appropriate support and care when they are given the opportunity to tell their stories and benefit from a best interests determination.

Read more about the Regional Expert Conference in Oslo in June 2018 here.

Listen Up!
Creating conditions for children to speak and be heard

This report was informed by the speakers and participants in the regional seminars of the ‘PROTECT Children on the Move’ project during 2017 and 2018, as well as children and young people who have had experiences of exploitation and trafficking and shared their recommendations in the project consultations.

The report highlights amongst others interviewing protocols and training approaches that are informed by evidence; innovatice technology which enhances the impact of trainign; how to lead sensitive conversations with children; and urges to hea about the experience and recommendations of children who received assistance after a situation of exploitation and trafficking. This will help state agencies and service providers to reflect on their own roles and to understand that their behaviour and communication matter for delivering quality services.

Latest news

Find all information and material of past events and meetings below.

Hearing the Child’s Story – Regional expert conference adopts Oslo Conclusions

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Lithuanian Minister of Social Security & Labour stressed need for cooperation

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Children’s recommendations highlighted at PROTECT III workshop in St Petersburg

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Announcing the PROTECT Network – ensuring safety for children in migration

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PROTECT II – Expert meeting and training on Promoting the Human Rights and Best Interests of Children in Transnational Child Protection Cases

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Training of professionals in the “Best Interest Determination” for children at risk of exploitation and trafficking

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CBSS & NCM brings protection of children on the move training to Tallinn

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CBSS & NCM launches training series on protection of children in migration

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Project outcomes turn into practical trainings, cooperation launched with the Nordic Council of Ministers

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Experts reflected on the Child exploitation: Cross-national child protection in practice ‘PROTECT Children on the Move’ Expert Meeting series, children’s participation and the way forward

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Judges, Central Authorities and Social Services highlighted Transnational Child Protection issues

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UN Special Rapporteur and the Lithuanian Ombudsperson for Child Rights contributed important inputs to the expert meeting case management

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Experts investigated international and European standards, procedures and safeguards

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Experts discuss the best interest assessment in transnational cases

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Meeting schedule for Child exploitation: Cross-national child protection in practice

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Guidelines – Promoting the Human Rights and the Best Interests of the Child in Transnational Child Protection Cases

These Guidelines are formed by the project Child Exploitation: Cross-National Child Protection in Practice – ‘PROTECT Children on the Move’ and the experience and evidence shared by the numerous professionals and officials who participated in the project consultations.In this context, the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat and partners in Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden convened five expert meetings in 2014 and 2015 on transnational child protection.

The Guidelines are directed at all professionals and officials working with and for children, such as policy makers and public officials in countries of origin, transit and destination, public and private service providers within child care and protection structures and the asylum reception system, guardians, immigration officials and case officers, border guards, and child rights advocates. In 2016, at an expert meeting held in Stockholm, an Addendum to the Guidelines has been launched. As the Guidelines publication is envisaged as a living document, this Addendum provides an overview of some key themes and developments that emerged during the year of 2016.

Guidelines

   Addendum December 2016

Transnational Child Protection: Practical guide for caseworkers and case officers

This practical guide presents an overview of measures to safeguard the human rights and the best interests of children in cross-border situations. It is an easy and accessible tool for caseworkers and case officers such as social workers, immigration officials and law enforcement officers as well as lawyers, guardians and other professionals working with and for children on the move.

The guide is based on a set of guidelines, which provide more elaborate and detailed information and a discussion of the key themes. In addition, the Transnational Child Protection Portal offers access online to the content of the practical guide as well as additional information for professionals and officials working with and for children on the move.

The practical guide is available in ENG, EE, FI, LT, LV and RU.

Please select your language below!

The Transnational Child Protection Portal

In 2015 the CBSS developed and launched a portal on Wikipedia on the topic of transnational child protection.The Transnational Child Protection Portal offers a platform for sharing information, knowledge, and expertise among all those involved in safeguarding children in cross-border situations. It offers an overview about tools, approaches and methods as well as institutions and contacts in different countries. The platform will evolve when more and more institutions, services and professionals take part in sharing their expertise.

The Portal was developed as part of the Cross-national child protection in practice – ‘PROTECT Children on the Move’ project. The project was co-funded by the European Union Return Fund – Community Actions of the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs – and the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The Protect Network

The PROTECT Network currently has contacts from 17 European countries from a wide range of professions. These contacts are experts and professionals who are engaged in ensuring safety for children in migration and protecting them from exploitation and trafficking.

When you join this informal network, your name, organization and contact information will be added to a list of contact points. We will distribute your information to those who are on the list. We aim to regularly update the list with new names and updated contacts. When you contact someone in the PROTECT network, you may find the answers you need in your daily work, be it information, ideas, guidance, or even where to turn next for an answer. The PROTECT network of contact points is developed with the kind support of the Nordic Council of Ministers.