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 European Return Fund. The three previous 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 here.

The 4th expert meeting convened in Riga, Latvia on 25-26th November 2014 and focused on the role of judges, social services and central authorities in transnational child protection.

More than 50 experts from the Baltic Sea Region and beyond participated in the meeting. 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. Keynote speeches were delivered by Philippe Lortie, First Secretary of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and Samarie Wijekoon Löfvendahl, Legal Officer at UNHCR. For more information about the experts who attended please see the press release for the meeting.

A summary of the key outcomes and recommendations, a detailed conference report and Powerpoint presentations are linked below.

Welcome and introduction
Turid Heiberg, Head of Children’s Unit, Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat, Sweden

Key Note Speech: Direct Judicial Communications within the International Hague Network of Judges in the context of a well-integrated cross-border child protection system – The Hague Conventions of 1980 and 1996 and Brussels II a”
Philippe Lortie, First Secretary, Hague Conference on Private International Law, Permanent Bureau

The experiences of the central authority in Lithuania and Latvia in promoting cross-border cooperation on child protection matters
Odeta Tarvydienė; Director, State child rights protection and adoption service under the Ministry of social security and labour, Lituania
Agris Skudra, Head of Children Affairs Cooperation Division, Ministry of Justice, Latvia

Brussels IIa Regulation and its application for transnational child protection cases – the experiences of the county administrative board of Stockholm
Charlotta Thorelius, Manager, County Administrative Board of Stockholm Sweden

Panel I: The relationship between the central authorities and social services on transnational child protection
Erica Neiglick, Deputy Head of Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden
Christoph Braunschweig, Social Worker, International Social Service, Switzerland
Haldi Koit, Advisor, Child Abduction Central Authority, Estonia
Jane Vinther Bröndum, Head of Section, Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration, Denmark

Panel II: The judges and their perspective on establishing jurisdiction, gathering and validating information and hearing the views of the child
Kirsten Schmidt, Judge, Denmark
Martina Erb-Kluenemann, District Court Judge, Germany
Anne Marie Selvaag, Judge, District Court, Norway
Francisco Javier Forcada Miranda, Senior judge, Court of Appeal, Spain

Panel III: Long-term impact and mediation
Marilyn Freeman, professor/Researcher, UK
And also Marilyn Freeman’s research report: “Parental Child Abduction: The Long-Term Effects
Sabine Brieger, local Court Judge, Germany
Lelde Kāpiņa, Mediator, Riga Orphan’s Court

Reflections based on the Swedish court proceedings in relation to child trafficking and transnational child protection
Märta C Johansson, researcher, Örebro university, Sweden

Keynote comments: Best interest determination in transnational cooperation
Samarie Wijekoon Löfvendahl, legal officer, UNHCR

Panel IV: Establishing and transferring jurisdiction over non-national children
Kerry L. Neal, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF HQ
Hilde Liden, Research Professor, Institute for Social Research, Norway
Grzegorz Kostka, Lawyer,  Itaka Foundation, Poland

Panel V: Data protection and confidentiality: International, European and national standards, challenges and dilemmas in transnational cooperation  
Philip Ishola, CEO, Counter Human Trafficking Bureau, UK
Aiga Balode, Deputy Director, Data State Inspectorate of Latvia

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 Direc-torate-General Home Affairs and the Council of Baltic Sea States


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