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.

Summary meeting report

Full meeting report

Participant list

Meeting agenda

Presentations from the meeting


Day 1

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

Guardianship for children deprived of parental care

Georgia Dimitropoulou, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Austria

Experiences as lawyer of unaccompanied minor refugees

Bente Oftedal Roli, Lawyer, Norway

Vulnerable children and their right to be heard

Ann-Christin Cederborg, University of Stockholm, Sweden

Protection of minor victims in criminal procedures

Iara de Witte, Defence for Children/ECPAT, Netherlands

Session III: Detention of accompanied and unaccompanied children in the host country

Immigration Detention – ending child detention

Alice Farmer, Human Rights Watch, USA

Detention of children in the host country & their return

Andy Elvin, Children and Families Across Borders, UK


Session IV: Family tracing and risk assessment in transnational cases of children exposed to exploitation

Identification and referral of, and response to child victims of trafficking in need of international protection

Andrea Vonkeman, UNHCR, Belgium

IOM’s Role in Assistance and Protection of Victims of trafficking with special considerations for children

Irina Todorova, International Organization for Migration, Belgium

Risks & Responsibilities – Family Tracing

Igna Oomen, Lawyer, Netherlands

Family tracing and risk assessment in transnational cases of children exposed to exploitation

Christoph Braunschweig, Swiss Foundation of the International Social Service ISS


Day 2

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

Guardianship for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers – Dublin cases

Germa Lourens, Nidos, Independent guardianship and family supervision agency, Netherlands

Transfers within Europe

Odeta Tarvydiene, State child protection and adoption service, Lithuania


Session VI: Returning, reception services and follow-up – Prevention of re-trafficking 

Return of separted and unaccompanied children to institutional reception or family

Jan Murk, UNICEF, Netherlands

Youth on the Move: former unaccompanied minors removed to Afghanistan

Emily Bowerman, Refugee Support Network, UK

Unaccompanied children in Russia: returning, reception services and follow-up

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.

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