Last update 22.12.2010 FRC Contact

Ensuring justice and protection for all children

All pictures © Dann
Audience at the 2010 Fundamental Rights Conference 2010 - Ensuring justice and protection for all children - © Dann

The FRC 2010 'Ensuring Justice and Protection for all Children' was organized by the FRA in cooperation with the Belgian Presidency of the EU. The conference was held in Brussels on 7-8 December 2010.

It brought together 300 experts from national governments, EU bodies, intergovernmental organisations, local authorities, civil society and specialised bodies on human rights. The focus was on:

  • Developing practical proposals to address challenges faced by vulnerable children in the EU
  • Sharing ‘ good practice’ on child-friendly approaches within administrative and judicial practice
  • Supporting the implementation of policies and strategies related to the rights of the child in the EU

Videos of the FRC 2010

Children have their say - © DannTurning rights on paper into rights in practice

The FRC 2010 opened with children having their say and closed with a call for the practical implementation of children’s rights across the EU. Suggestions put forward by the participants focused on:

  • Ensuring access to child-friendly justice;
  • Encouraging children’s participation and giving children access to a trusted support person of their choice;
  • Providing an integrated and tailored approach to the individual needs of the child;
  • Developing child-centred practices including in data collection and research;
  • Strengthening community based and national child protection systems; and
  • Raising awareness about child rights.

Read the Summary of the Conference Rapporteurs: [Day 1] [Day 2]

Morten Kjaerum - © DannKjaerum: "Vulnerable children have difficulties accessing protection systems"

As evidenced in the Fundamental Rights Agency’s report on separated, asylum-seeking children “many vulnerable children simply do not understand the procedures that they are part of – procedures that are in a foreign language and procedures that, in most cases, were designed for adults” warned FRA Director Morten Kjaerum in his opening remarks .”These children do not know that they too have the right to be heard”. “Training on ‘child-friendly justice’ is therefore a must for Europe’s police, lawyers and judiciary”, Director Kjaerum said.

Read the speech of FRA Director Morten Kjaerum

Viviane Reding - © DannReding: "In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child's best interests must be a primary consideration"

European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding recalled that "children's rights are firmly part of the Charter [of Fundamental Rights]. Article 24 explicitly stipulates that all children have the right to protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. It also requires that children can express their views freely and that, most importantly, such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity". She highlighted that she is currently preparing a new Communication on the Rights of the Child. "My objective is to put forward a number of concrete actions to better protect and promote the rights of children".

Read the speech of the Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding

Yanghee Lee - © DannLee: "For rights to have meaning, effective remedies must be available to redress violations"

"The past twenty years have been instrumental in standard setting for children’s rights. But the full recognition of children as subjects of rights was not completely possible", said Yanghee Lee, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. She explained that in order for states "to ensure effective remedies, the following is suggested: child-friendly information, advice and advocacy, including support for self-advocacy; access to independent complaints procedure; and access to courts with necessary legal and other assistance".

Read the speech of the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Yanghee Lee

Council of Europe: The Guidelines on child-friendly justice are "at your disposal to advance children’s rights in Europe and beyond"

The FRC also highlighted the importance of using and applying the newly adopted Council of Europe Guidelines on child-friendly justice. “The Guidelines are not only a declaration of principles, but a practical guide to the implementation of internationally agreed standards”, said Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs at the Council of Europe. “I very much hope that the principles behind these guidelines will inspire European legal and judicial systems so that we can soon replace prisons with solutions that really take into account the child’s best interest”.

Read the speech of the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Maud De Boer- Buquicchio

Hilde F. Johnson - © DannJohnson: "In everything we do, the most disadvantaged children and those in greatest needs must have priority"

“We need to place what we do in a bigger context. What we do also needs to be nested in the EU‘s efforts to address vulnerability more broadly, such as under the EU 2020 Strategy, addressing child poverty and promoting child well-being more generally” said Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF Hilde F. Johnson. “That is our obligation. That is our mission. We hope to see it becomes that of the EU too”.

Read the speech of the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF Hilde F. Johnson