The Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children

At a glance

[24/04/2017] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "The Role of non-governmental organisations as promoters of positive practices in care and accommodation for refugee and migrant minors", 2nd part of the 2017 Session of the Parliamentary Assembly


[11-12/04/2017] Monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures

Monitoring places group In the framework of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children, a training seminar for members of parliaments and Children's Ombudspersons took place on 11-12 April 2017, in Strasbourg. It was organised by the Council of Europe Children's Rights Division and the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, in partnership with the Defence for Children - Belgium.

The objectives of the seminar "Monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures" were: to provide the participants with relevant information regarding standards and practical tools on monitoring detention places, allow their exchanges and promote their collaboration and identify further elements to be included in the final version of a practical guide for parliamentarians on monitoring places where children are deprived of their liberty as a result of immigration procedures.


[24/03/2017] Parliamentarian visit to the residential home and centre "Bäregg"

On 24 March 2017, a parliamentarian visit was conducted to the residential home for unaccompanied minors and the centre "Bäregg" (Bern, Switzerland). The visit was led by the General Rapporteur, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE), in the framework of the Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children.  The participants had an insight into the daily routine, dormitory and school of the young migrants and exchanged with the representatives of the Migration authorities of the Canton of Bern and the Bäregg centre. The centre is responsible for the placement and care of all unaccompanied minors who have applied for asylum in Switzerland and who are assigned to the Canton of Bern.


[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


[16/09/2016] Speaker of the Serbian parliament supporting the Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children

Ms Maja GojkovićIn 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).


[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).


[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"


[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


[24/06/2015] Strasbourg (France), Round Table "For a Europe without detained immigrant children", 3rd part of the 2015 Session of the Assembly


[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.