PACE Committee on Migration expressed concern by the serious threats that migrant children face on their way to Europe, and important gaps in the policies and procedures, “which limit the legal opportunities for migration in Europe and put these children at risk of falling in the hands of smugglers and traffickers”. It regretted that a number of European signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child “continue to violate their obligations by not providing adequate protection to migrant children and safeguarding their rights”.
Following the proposals by the rapporteur Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir (Iceland, UEL), the parliamentarians underlined that the member States of the Council of Europe must abide by the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which includes prioritising the child’s best interests and ensuring that “a best interests determination procedure is legislated and implemented for each migrant child”.
The parliamentarians stated that local and regional authorities bear a major responsibility in providing necessary protection to migrant children at places of arrival, and reiterated its position condemning violent practices such as detaining migrant children and using invasive methods in age assessment procedures.
There is a need, the Committee said, for a common strategy to be adopted by the governments of the members States of the Council of Europe on how to combat violence against migrant children in all its forms and to ensure the broad and comprehensive protection of their human rights. Such a strategy should include proposals on how to ensure safe and legal entry for migrant children into third States to limit the risk of trafficking and abuse.