The Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children
At a glance
[14/12/2016] ‘This is not what childhood should be', said Doris Fiala
On the occasion of International Migrants' Day, marked every year on 18 December, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children declared that the past year was a "very difficult year because of the great human suffering of migrants who left their homes in quest of a safe place. Many of the people who have escaped these horrific situations, conflict and chaos are children.
This year alone, more than 300 000 children entered the European continent, too many of them alone, without their parents or anyone to take care of them. In their search for security, the road has exposed them to tremendous dangers. Trafficking, physical violence including gender-based and sexual violence, and abuse are just some of the risks that migrant children face. Their misfortunes might not even end once they reach our continent.
In too many cases, these children are put in detention, because of administrative procedures, because they don't have the appropriate documents or because they have crossed the border illegally. Thus they fall victim to further suffering – poor hygiene, bad nutrition, closed, small, overcrowded cells with people they have never met and who may mean further danger for them. These children face more violence, more risks and lifelong traumatism. This is not what childhood should be.
All of our member States have a moral obligation to protect children. Our governments need to have a human-rights based, child-sensitive approach to dealing with migrant minors. They can and should adopt alternatives to shutting them away behind locked doors. Instead of detention children must be accommodated in a community, where their best interests, health and family unity are respected. Now even more than ever we must put all our efforts into stopping the terrible practice of imprisoning migrant children, who have committed no crime and who must not suffer because of their own or their parents' immigration status.
[14/12/2016] The Government of Switzerland for the second year supports the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children
The Government of Switzerland has made a voluntary contribution of €225 513 to the support the second phase of the "Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children". After the successful implementation of the campaign's first phase, which was also supported by the Swiss Government, the scope of the second phase will be broadened to include activities with the intergovernmental sector, in particular the Council of Europe's Children Rights Division, to support the work of the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF), which oversees the implementation of the Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2016-2021. The aim of the Parliamentary Campaign is to strengthen the role of national parliaments in protecting and promoting the human rights of migrant children in line with international and Council of Europe standards and to promote positive, protective alternative practices to immigration detention.
[18/11/2016] 18 November - European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse
Statement of the General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children, Ms Doris Fiala
"The 18th of November is a very important day as we mark the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
We know that migrant children are faced with serious risks on their way to a safe place. While travelling great distances from their homes, in search of a secure environment, they may become victims of some of the worst forms of violence like sexual violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking. Ultimately, many of them face detention, where they are placed in overcrowded facilities, small cells, often with single men who are complete strangers to them.
In the past year, there have been extremely worrying reports on cases of incidents of sexual abuse in some of the centres where migrants were. We need to be constantly reminded of the particular vulnerability of the child, who is sometimes not even able to report abuse.
It is therefore extremely important to ensure a secure environment for children. Member States need to undertake effective measures to provide them special protection, ensure that they are put in a safe, secure and appropriate accommodation, with their families or legal guardians and not detained behind bars. Protecting migrant and asylum-seeking minors is our obligation. The Council of Europe has the necessary instruments which provide guidelines for children's protection. One of these instruments is the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, signed by all member States of the Council of Europe and ratified by 41.
I therefore call upon those member States, who have not yet ratified this Convention, to do so and all states to fully implement it and take all the necessary steps to protect children, prevent sexual violence, protect child victims and prosecute perpetrators."
[12/10/2016] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "Age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in Europe", 4th part of the 2016 Session of the Assembly
- Draft Programme
- Presentation by Serge Lipski, Médecins du Monde
- Presentation by Phlip Ishola, Age Assessment Strategic Oversight Group
[16/09/2016] Speaker of the Serbian parliament supporting the Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children
In March 2015, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) was appointed as General rapporteur for the Campaign by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.
The President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the Chairperson of the National Assembly's Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ms Maja Gojković has supported the PACE Campaign by signing the global petition to End Immigration Detention of Children.
[16/06/2016] Bern (Switzerland), Seminar held under the framework of the Campaign in the Swiss parliament
A seminar on "Promoting alternatives to the immigration detention of children in Switzerland" took place on 16 June in in the Swiss parliament, in Bern, moderated by Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), the General Rapporteur of the Campaign. During the seminar, Foundation Terre des Hommes presented a status report on Illegal Detention of Migrant Children in Switzerland, which was reported in two major articles in the Swiss media (links to articles).
- Teenager im Gefängnis - Terre des hommes report on the detention of unaccompanied minors
- 15 to 18 year-old migrants placed in administrative detention in Switzerland
- Presentation by Miriam Behrens, OSAR (Organisation suisse d'aide aux réfugiés) (French only)
- Presentation by Denise Graf, Amnesty International (French only)
- Presentation by Mitchell Grant, International Detention Coalition
- Presentation by Anja Klug, UNHCR (French only)
- Presentation by Vito Angelillo, Foundation Terre des Hommes (French only)
[26/05/2016] "Unacceptable that unaccompanied children are detained" says the Secretary General of the Council of Europe
During his official visit to Greece, the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has said that it is it is "unacceptable" that any refugee and migrant children who arrive on the continent unaccompanied by their parents are held in detention centers, and called on European countries to ensure such children can be housed in special facilities and quickly reunited with their families.
[19/05/2016] Ms Tineke Strik announces the upcoming seminar under the Campaign
Under the framework of the Campaign, the seminar on "Alternatives to the immigration detention of children from a legal, practical and implementation perspective" will be held on 19 May. The event will take place in the Parliament in the Hague and is organised with the kind help of Ms Tineke Strik (Netherlands, Socialist Group).
- Video with Ms Strik announcing the seminar
- Video with Ms Strik summarising the first panel of the seminar
- Video with Ms Kostenko opening the seminar
- Video with Mr Lewis' opening statement
- Images of the seminar
[04/03/2016] Laws must change to end migrant child detention, Doris Fiala tells French radio
The General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign Doris Fiala was interviewed for the programme "En direct de l'Europe" on French radio following January's round table on "The negative effects of immigration detention of children". She was subsequently quoted in an accompanying article on the necessity for laws to change in order to end child immigration detention.
[04/03/2016] 47 Council of Europe member States urged to take action in order to protect refugee children
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has sent a letter to the Heads of Government of all 47 states of the Council of Europe urging them to make every effort to end the placement of children in immigration detention facilities, together with a document proposing a set of priority measures.
[27/01/2016] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "The negative effect of immigration detention on children"
- Draft programme
- Key Conclusions from the Round Table by Ms Doris Fiala, MP, General Rapporteur on Ending Immigration Detention of Children Campaign
- Speaking notes of Dr. Katy Robjant, Clinical Physiologist and Head of Therapies: Helen Bamber Foundation, United Kingdom
- Presentation of Mr Martin Vegter, Legal Advisor on children's rights and immigration, Defence for Children, the Netherlands
[25/01/2016] Interview with Doris Fiala, the General rapporteur for the Campaign, on ending immigration detention of children
Interview with Ms Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) on the occasion of the hearing on ‘The negative effects of immigration detention of children' which took place on the margins of the Assembly's January 2016 plenary session in Strasbourg.
[01/01/2016] New-Year's greetings from Doris Fiala
[18/12/2015] Strasbourg (France), International Migrants' Day
Every day, all around the world, millions of children are at risk of being detained on the basis of their immigration status. These children have committed no crime. The only reason they are being detained is because they lack the necessary travel documents to safely enter a country. Many of these children are feeling violence in their countries of origin. In Europe, 700 children seek asylum every day, and that figure is growing.
On the occasion of 18 December, International Migrants Day, Doris Fiala, the General Rapporteur for the Council of Europe Parliamentary Campaign, calls all the Council of Europe member states to end immigration detention of children and use of alternatives to detention. No child should be in a detention centre she says.
[--/09/2015] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "Promoting alternatives to the immigration detention of children", 4th part of the 2015 Session of the Assembly
- Key Conclusions from the Round Table by Ms. Doris Fiala, MP, General Rapporteur on Ending Immigration Detention of Children Campaign
- Presentation of Mr. Kerry L. Neal, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF
[24/06/2015] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "For a Europe without detained immigrant children", 3rd part of the 2015 Session of the Assembly
- Speech of Ms. Doris Fiala, MP, General Rapporteur on Ending Immigration Detention of Children Campaign
- Speech of Ms. Georgia Spyropoulou, Special Advisor of the alternate Minister for Migration Policy of Greece
- Speech of Ms. Genevieve Sauberli, Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
- Presentation of Ms. Andrea Vonkeman, Senior Policy Officer, UNHCR Bureau for Europe
[20/04/2015] Inauguration of the Campaign
On 20 April 2015, PACE launched the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children.
It seeks to raise awareness of this issue in Europe and to encourage States to adopt alternatives to detention that fulfil the best interests of the child and allow children to remain with their family members and/or guardians in non-custodial, community-based contexts while their immigration status is being resolved.
Indeed, in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases of children confined in detention facilities for migrants.
Therefore, on January 2015 the Council of Europe decided to join the Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children - launched during the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in 2012.
In March 2015, the Assembly's Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons appointed Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) as General Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Campaign to End immigration detention of children, in order to raise awareness on the issue and to attract the attention of parliamentarians of member States of the Council of Europe to take measures in their national parliaments in order to discuss and actively support the Campaign.