Following a thematic exchange on the situation of children in and from Ukraine with a contribution by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, the Committee adopted the Explanatory Memorandum to the draft Recommendation on Human Rights Principles and Implementing Guidelines on age assessment for children in migration, thus completing the set of documents to be submitted to the Committee of Ministers in this very topical and important area.
The CDENF also considered the final Implementation Report on the previous Strategy (2016-2022) before submitting it to the Committee of Ministers, and elected its new Chair, Vice-Chair and a Bureau member.
Inter-Secretariat Taskforce on the Rights of the Child
The new Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) entering its implementation phase within the Inter-Secretariat Task Force
Various services mainstreaming and supporting the rights of the child throughout their activities, gathered for their first 2022 meeting on 13 September to jointly initiate Strategy action within the Council of Europe. Besides a reminder of the Strategy priorities and tools facilitating its implementation, a thematic focus was set on artificial intelligence and children’s rights, with a contribution by Vasiliki Charisi and Rosanna di Gioia, research scientists from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Colleagues then shared about recent action in the area of the rights of the child taken through their bodies, projects and events. Many colleagues were particularly interested in the issue of child participation and agreed to pursuing the discussion about possible synergies and collaboration in this area at a dedicated meeting to be organised in autumn.
Working Group on responses to violence against children
At its 7th and the last meeting (22-23 September 2022), the Working Group on responses to violence against children (CDENF-GT-VAE) discussed the draft Recommendation and Guidelines on Strengthening reporting systems on violence against children, focusing on the role of and action to be taken by professionals working for and with children in different areas to prevent or end violence against children where it is suspected or clearly identified. The draft Recommendation and Guidelines will be submitted to the CDENF for approval at its 6th plenary meeting on 15-17 November 2022. Following the finalisation of this work by the CDENF-GT-VAE, a new Committee of Experts on the Prevention of Violence (ENF-VAE) will be set up in early 2023 to focus on exploring the matter of comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education as a means of preventing violence, with a view to preparing relevant guidance before the end of 2024.
Upcoming guide on child participation in bioethics
The 3rd meeting of the BIO/ENF-CP Drafting Group on Developing a Guide to good practice concerning the participation of children in the decision-making process on matters regarding their health took place in Paris on 22-23 of September 2022. The group agreed on final changes to the Draft Guide, which will subsequently be shared with national authorities and experts for their consultation. A consultation with children is also foreseen. The final meeting of the drafting group is expected to take place in January 2023.
On 27 September 2022, in the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe joint project "CP4Europe - Strengthening National Child Participation Frameworks and Action in Europe", adults and children from its 5 country Partners (Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Slovenia, and Portugal) met with Council of Europe experts Gerison Lansdown, Roberta Ruggiero and Cath Larkins to identify new outcome indicators which would be associated to the Council of Europe Child Participation Assessment Tool (CPAT). It was agreed that these indicators are essential to be able to measure to what extent children feel empowered to participate in decisions that affect them and to test whether the changes governments have introduced to promote child participation are making a difference in children’s lives.
The experts will now continue to work on the development of the outcome indicators on the basis of the information collected during this very successful meeting.
Roundtable to discuss legal and training gap analysis in the context of Barnahus
On 28 September 2022, a Roundtable was organised in Helsinki to present to Finnish policy makers the two Analyses developed in the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe joint project “Ensuring child-friendly justice through the effective operation of the Barnahus-Units in Finland”. The Analyses offer recommendations on the current practices and training gaps and needs of professionals working with and for children in Finland, as well as recommendations on potential changes in Finnish legislation concerning child sexual exploitation and abuse cases to ensure that the pre-trial delays are reduced and that the best interest of the child is at the centre of the processes.
Raising awareness on protection of children against sexual abuse with Kiko materials in Japanese
On 31 July 2022 students of Doshisha University (our partner institution) who are part of the translation project led by Professor Reiko Mihara, organised a public workshop to present the Japanese translation of “Kiko and the Manymes” materials and to raise awareness on the protection of children against sexual abuse. The event gathered parents, children, teachers and a survivor of child sexual abuse during childhood. The students read the Kiko and the Manymes book to the children who were present at the event, and provided background information on the Lanzarote Convention and the Kiko books. As a follow up Professor Mihara and her students were interviewed by Kyoto newspaper about their translation project through which Kiko materials had been translated into Japanese.
A survey was also conducted among 60 teachers and staff of early childhood education facility in Nagasaki on the Kiko and the Hand materials. The feedback was positive with many respondents thinking that the use of this book in early childhood education and child-related facilities would be effective in raising awareness and in protecting children from sexual abuse.
Co-operation with the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Migration and Refugees
The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Migration and Refugees carried out visits to the Czech Republic, Poland, the Republic of Moldova and the Slovak Republic in May-July 2022 (see her country reports) to assess the situation and needs of the different countries concerned by the incoming flow of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. The Lanzarote Committee Secretariat prepared inputs for the SRSG based on the monitoring work of the Lanzarote Committee and produced a Checklist on protection of children affected by refugee crises from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse available in Ukrainian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Romanian, English and French to be disseminated in the work with countries. The former Chairperson of the Lanzarote Committee, Mr George Nikolaidis, also participated in the visit to Poland. On 21 September 2022, the Office of the SRSG, in partnership with UNHCR, launched the first country Roundtable to follow up on her country visits. The event focused on the Slovak Republic. The Lanzarote Committee Secretariat delivered a presentation on the standards of the Convention and some of the recommendations identified for the Slovak Republic.
Challenges of online sexual exploitation of children addressed in a 77th UN General Assembly side event
On 21 September 2022, a high-level side event on the Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children took place online in the context of the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations.
The conference, organised by the Republic of Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates in co-operation with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Violence against Children and the Council of Europe discussed trends, challenges and responses to online sexual exploitation and abuse of children. It examined shortcomings to current frameworks, ways to address these, as well as new developments in efforts to combat these crimes. In particular, the conference looked into the development of legal and policy frameworks and protection strategies to effectively prevent and eradicate new and emerging forms of online sexual exploitation and abuse in a gender-responsive and child-friendly manner.
14th European Forum on the Rights of the Child – putting children in the centre
On 27 September 2002, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, delivered a keynote address at the 14th European Forum on the Rights of the Child underlining the synergies between the Council of Europe and the EU in protecting children’s rights. She noted that the Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2022-2027 and the EU Strategy for the Rights of the Child share common vision and objectives, focusing on the participation of children, integrated systems for child protection and child-friendly justice.
The Secretary General also spoke of the challenges children face, including the recent growth of self-generated sexual content made by children as well as of the increased risk of abuse of Ukrainian children in migration which the Secretary General called “one of the many appalling effects of Russia’s aggression”.
6th plenary meeting of the Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF)
The Steering Committee will hold its 6th plenary meeting in Strasbourg on 15-17 November 2022 to initiate further activities under its Terms of Reference and the new Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027). It will consider several major texts, including a draft Recommendation on strengthening reporting systems on violence against children, with a view to its approval, and a draft Recommendation on the protection of the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings, for the provision of further guidance for the final drafting. The Committee will also receive an update concerning a study on the implementation of Barnahus structures in Europe and hold exchanges of views with various internal and external partners.
As every year, the Council of Europe invites its partners to mobilise on the occasion of the European day and to organise activities to raise awareness on sexual violence against children.
The theme retained for the 2022 edition of the European Day is “Getting it right: ensuring child-friendly justice through Barnahus structures in Europe”. Barnahus (Children’s House) is the leading European child-friendly multidisciplinary and interagency (MDIA) response model for child sexual abuse. Its unique approach brings together all relevant services under one roof, to avoid re-victimisation of the child during investigation and court proceedings, provide every child with a coordinated and effective response, including medical evaluation and treatment, and to elicit the child’s disclosure. You are all invited to celebrate this year’s edition of the European Day, organise activities to raise awareness on child sexual violence and inform us by completing this online form so that we can promote them on our website.
Adventures of children's beloved character friend Kiko are now available in Japanese thanks to Professor Reiko Mihara from the Doshisha University and her motivated students. We are very grateful to them for their efforts to translate and disseminate our "Kiko and the Hand" and "Kiko and the Manymes" materials in Japanese and help raise awareness on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse through various activities.
With the support of ECPAT Norway, Kiko and the Manymes materials are now also available in Norwegian.
The following publications have been translated in the framework of the Finnish Barnahus project into Finnish and Swedish:
The Council of Europe Handbook on children’s participation for professionals working for and with children: Listen – Act – Change has been translated into Finnish in cooperation with the Finnish Ministry of Justice.
Requests for repatriation of applicants’ daughters and grandchildren held in camps in Syria rejected without any formal decision or judicial review ensuring lack of arbitrariness, which amounted to a violation of Article 3 § 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention: H.F. and others v. France [GC], press release