A new report on the “European legal and policy framework on immigration detention of children” has been launched by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA).

FRA held an Experts Meeting to discuss the issues raised in the report and to share good practices between states, which the Senior Child Rights Advisor of the International Detention Coalition (IDC), Melanie Teff, attended.

The meeting was attended by experts from EU meber States and Schengen Associated Countries representing immigration, child protection, guardianship and ombudsman authorities; EU institutions; international intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

The discussion focused on four main issues which were subject of dedicated working groups:

  • the role of child protection authorities and the best interests of the child
  • alternatives to detention for unaccompanied children
  • alternatives to detention for families
  • detention conditions.

The IDC presented at this Experts’ Meeting on its research findings on alternatives to detention from outside of Europe (giving examples from Australia, the USA, and Hong Kong), to promote discussion and thinking about key elements of successful alternatives to detention globally that are also relevant in the European context.

The IDC’s research findings highlight some key elements that are necessary for alternatives to detention to be successful in any context – such as engagement with the child/family through case management, a holistic approach that helps explore all of the child’s/family’s options (not only return), and ensuring that basic needs are met.

The IDC provided examples of families who decided to return voluntarily following engagement through holistic case management, as well as explaining the IDC’s Child-Sensitive Community Assessment & Placement (CCAP) Model.

The presentation of the European Alternatives to Detention Network (convened by IDC and PICUM and set up in March 2017) resulted in a lot of interest by the Expert Meeting participants, especially regarding how the network develops, as well as exploring in further detail at future meetings best models of case management.

In June a preparatory meeting was also held toward the first EU Guardianship Network, which is expected to be up and running starting in 2018.