During 2014-15 the Children’s Unit at the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS) Secretariat organised five expert meetings in cooperation with partners in Europe and beyond with support from the European Return Fund. Four of the expert meetings addressed the best interest assessment/determination and the standards, procedures and safeguards in returns and transfers. Reports and documents from these meetings are available below.

The fifth and final meeting summed up the findings and lessons learned from the expert meetings and looked into ways of achieving a holistic approach and policy coherence. The meeting added value by focusing on how to include children’s experiences in research and practice. A multimodal person-centered approach with all stakeholders “under one roof”  including the child making assessments and decisions was suggested in order to ensure a dignified stay or return. Such a multi-sectorial and child-friendly approach were seen as important for minimizing the risk of re-traumatization. 

Organisers: Council of Baltic Sea States Secretariat, the State Border Guard in Latvia, Stockholm Social Emergency Center, State Child Protection and Adoption Service in Lithuania

Funding: The European Return Fund – Community Actions of the European Commission Directorate-General Home Affairs and the Council of Baltic Sea States

  • Welcome and introduction of participantsTurid Heiberg, Head of Unit, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat
  • Key note speech, comments and practices: A human rights perspective on the rights of all children on a national territory irrespective of legal status
  • Presentation of the draft Guidelines and the Online Tool
    • Turid Heiberg, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat
    • Daja Wenke, Independent Child Rights Consultant
    • Shawnna von Blixen, Project assistant, CBSS
    • Odeta Tarvydien, Lithuania State Child Protection and Adoption Service
    • Edgars Jakubauskis, Latvian State Border Guard
    • Johan Christiansson, Stockholm Social Emergency Authority, Sweden
  • Children’s experiences and needs in focus. Are the children missing or are we missing the children?
  • Facilitators: Abdulahi Addow and Turid Heiberg
    • Abdulahi Addow, Voices of young refugees in Europe, Sweden
    • Katarina Munier: Programme Officer, the National Board of Health and Welfare, Sweden
    • Elin Wernqvist-Roberts, Secretary General, Children’s Rights Bureau, Sweden and Ida Hellrup, Legal adviser, Children’s Rights Bureau, Sweden
    • Mehdi Ghazinour, Professor, Umeå University, Sweden
    • Emily Bowerman, Senior Officer, Refugee Support Network, UK and Abdul Ghafour, Monitoring Officer, Refugee Support Network, Afghanistan
  • Reflections from the CBSS Expert Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk (EGCC) representing the 11 Member states of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
  • Facilitated by Anniki Lai, Chair of EGCC and Head of Department, Ministry of Social Affairs, Estonia.
    • Bragi Gudbrandsson, EGCC Representative from Iceland, Government Agency for Child Protection, responds to Mehdi Ghazinour’s presentation.
  • Key note speech with comments: From protecting children on the move towards safeguarding their rights: The case for a holistic approach
    • Ioannis N. Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
    • Jyothi Kanics, independent child rights advocate
    • Karolina Lindholm Billing, Deputy Regional Representative, UNHCR
  • Lessons learned in transnational child protection: Promoting policy coherence and implementation into practice
    • Jan Murk, Children’s Rights Advocate, NIDOS
    • Judith Almasi, Head of the Regional Office for Central and South Eastern Europe, Terre des Hommes
    • Mikaela Hagan, Coordinator of the international CONNECT project, Save the Children
    • Freddy Austli, Head of Programme, Child Helpline International
    • Philip Ishola, CEO, Counter Human Trafficking Bureau, UK


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