Child rights

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Sixth Regional Rule of Law Forum for SE Europe held in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, 22-23 March 2019

Civil Rights Defenders and the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) organised the Sixth Regional Rule of Law Forum for South East Europe. The Forum gathered over 170 participants from Albania, BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey and Hungary, including presidents and judges of supreme and constitutional courts, members of judicial councils, directors of judicial academies, representatives of NGOs and prominent legal experts in the field, as well as nine current and former judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. As a representative of NGO Praxis, Jasmina Miković, Deputy Executive Director took part in the Forum.

The aim of the Forum was to promote the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights at the domestic level, to encourage regional cooperation in the continued development of the rule of law and the protection of human rights, and to assist the process of EU integration across the region.

The topic of the 2019 Forum was child rights, focusing on the protection of children as an integral and essential part of the rule of law and marking 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Children are amongst the most vulnerable members of our societies and the protection of their rights is of fundamental importance to the rule of law. The topics forming the basis of the Forum discussions included domestic violence (with children as victims and witnesses), human trafficking, asylum, migration, custody and care of children, and access to justice for children.

Goran Miletić from Civil Rights Defenders explained at the Forum: “We decided to organise the first Forum as a means to enhance dialogue, debate, as well as cooperation between judiciaries, legal professionals and civil society organisations across the region. By sharing best practises we hope to improve the implementation of human rights standards across the region. The Sixth Regional Rule of Law Forum for South East Europe will be dedicated to children’s rights. This topic, which has been emphasised as an issue of fundamental importance and relevance was chosen after consultations with judiciaries and relevant stakeholders throughout the region and in Strasbourg.”

The Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights, Judge Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, stated: “The best interests of the child is a key notion in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It is used in a broad range of cases concerning not only family law (adoption, visitation rights, guardianship, international abduction of children, surrogate motherhood) but also in relation to other issues like detention of children, retention of migrant children, etc. The Court has developed a series of factors to be taken into account in order to better evaluate the best interests of the child on a case-by-case basis.”

During the Forum, Biljana Braithwaite, AIRE Centre Western Balkans Programme Manager said: “All the jurisdictions represented in this room today have the ECHR as part of their legal order, and everyone would agree that the protection of children is an essential and integral part of the rule of law. However, the legal protection of children under the Convention is not, in and of itself, sufficient to meet the obligations imposed by it. Notwithstanding the existence of such protection in the legal systems of the Council of Europe’s member states there have been many violations of the rights of children, who continue to suffer from, amongst other things, domestic violence, human trafficking and discrimination. It is important that the promotion and protection of their rights is practical and effective and does not remain theoretical and illusory. There is still work to be done to secure the full implementation of the rights of the child in practice, and we all have a role to play.”

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Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action
Praxis means action