Monday, September 25
08:30 Registration of Participants

09:00 Opening Session: Welcoming Remarks
Speakers: Robert Pelikán, Christos Giakoumopoulos

09:10 Opening Session: Keynote Speech
Speaker: Nils Muižnieks

09:30 Plenary Session I: Immigration Detention of Children: Experiences and Findings from the Field
Moderator: Tomáš Boček
Speakers: Pinar Aksu, Ivona Todorovska, Angela Valenza

In order to comprehend the phenomenon of child detention in the context of migration, the first plenary session aims to bring a first-hand experience from the field closer to Conference participants. This “setting the scene” session constitutes an opportunity to illustrate what this phenomenon entails both from the perspective of children, who themselves have experienced immigration detention, and experts who regularly monitor the situation on the ground.

10:30 Coffee Break

11:00 Plenary Session II: Council of Europe and Other International Human Rights Standards on the Immigration Detention of Children
Moderator: Vít Alexander Schorm
Speakers: Ann Power-Forde, Maria Rossidi, Kirsten Sandberg, Romina I. Sijniensky, Margaret Tuite

Human rights standards provide an important legal framework for the protection of children. In recent years, international and regional human rights supervisory bodies, including those of a judicial nature, have increasingly addressed the issue of immigration detention of children. Their approach differs to a certain extent. The aim of this session is to inform participants about these approaches and developments, while pointing out differences and similarities. It will provide an opportunity to clarify the obligations of States in this area. 

13:00 Lunch Break

14:30 Parallel Thematic Session A. Best Interest of the Child, Identification Procedures and Guardianship
Moderator: Dalibor Jílek
Speakers: Christel De Craim, Stamatina Poulou

The best interest of the child as a guiding principle plays a central role in all aspects concerning children, including considerations on their right to liberty in the context of migration. The aim of this session is to discuss how this principle can, in practical and concrete terms, guide those working in the field. Guardianship systems and effective identification procedures, such as age-assessment, will be explored as ways of ensuring that children have access to appropriate care and support, upholding the best interest of the child. This session will serve as an opportunity to exchange know-how and experiences on how to overcome the challenges at hand.  

14:30 Parallel Thematic Session B. Vulnerability and the Impact of Immigration Detention
Moderator: Stephanos Stavros
Speakers: Mária Barna, Thomas Straub

Detention is understood as a place of vulnerability, while migrant children per se are among the most vulnerable persons. This session will seek to identify the different sources and dynamic nature of vulnerability as well as the legal obligations of States in this context. Participants will be informed about the impact of immigration detention on children and other vulnerable persons. The session will present the relevant human rights obligations to be upheld when the issue of vulnerability arises and explore ways of addressing the special needs of the persons concerned, with a particular focus on children. 

16:00 Coffee Break

16:30 Plenary: Reporting from Parallel Thematic Sessions

17:00 Plenary Session III: Actions of International Organisations: Bringing the Immigration Detention of Children to a Close?
Moderator: Christos Giakoumopoulos
Speakers: Xavier Créach, Doris Fiala, Adriano Silvestri

Leading international organisations have made explicit calls to avoid and/or end the immigration detention of children. Keeping with this aim, strategies, campaigns and studies to strengthen these efforts have been launched. This session seeks to map these activities and the tools used while taking stock of the progress made. It will serve as a forum to discuss how different actors, including States, can participate in and benefit from these activities. 

Tuesday, September 26
09:00 Plenary Session IV: Alternatives to Detention: Effective and Beneficial Tools for States?
Moderator: Morten Ruud
Speakers: Maciej Fagasinski, Michael Flynn, Frank Schürmann

Various actors have emphasised that if alternatives are implemented effectively, they can provide both individuals and States with beneficial and cost-effective outcomes, upholding human rights and ensuring compliance with migration procedures. However, alternatives to immigration detention remain largely unused in practice, most notably due to wide-spread concerns about their effectiveness. This session will explore the use of alternatives to detention and elaborate upon some key findings of on-going work in the field.

10:30 Coffee Break

11:00 Plenary Session V: Promising Practices of Alternatives to Detention
Moderator: Oldřich Andrýsek
Speakers: Héctor Hugo Alemán Pacheco, Antigoni Angelaki, Irene Ritman, Robyn Sampson

This session will bring together panellists with practical insight into existing alternatives to immigration detention in different contexts. It should serve as a source of inspiration for both governmental and non-governmental experts involved in immigration procedures in Council of Europe member States, who could make use of the models presented and, ideally, adapt them to fit their national settings.

13:00 Lunch Break

14:30 Parallel Thematic Session C. Effective Cooperation with Civil Society in Achieving Results
Moderator: Nuala Mole
Speakers: Adriana van Dooijeweert, Benoit Van Keirsbilck

Civil society is considered an important partner in ensuring that alternatives to detention are effectively implemented in practice. This session will focus on identifying areas where civil society could cooperate constructively with governments, and/or other stakeholders, in achieving concrete results. Discussions will seek to illustrate challenges that may hamper such effective cooperation, as well as successful initiatives and partnerships which have led to mutually beneficial collaboration. 

14:30 Parallel Thematic Session D. Implementation of Alternatives: Challenges and Solutions
Moderator: Ben Lewis
Speakers: Eva Pfleger, Katarzyna Słubik

This session will seek to explore the reasons for which alternatives to detention remain largely unused in practice, and to identify persisting challenges. Possible solutions to overcome these challenges based on experience and innovative projects will be shared with participants in an effort to identify realistic and effective ways of implementing alternatives to detention in different national and regional contexts.

16:00 Coffee Break

16:30 Plenary: Reporting from Parallel Thematic Sessions

17:00 Concluding Plenary Session VI: Cooperation and Concrete Ways Forward
Moderator: Emil Ruffer
Speakers: Tomáš Boček, Christos Giakoumopoulos, Vít Alexander Schorm

How should States deal with the dynamically evolving human rights standards in the field, comply with these standards and, simultaneously, ensure that other legitimate aims of States are met? In what particular ways could international organisations, civil society and other relevant stakeholders cooperate with governments and support them in implementing effective alternatives to detention? This final session will offer an opportunity to reflect on how to move forward and the key messages to be conveyed from the Conference. 

...Conference Background Materials

APT: UN Global Compact position paper, 2017

CoE Commissionner for Human Rigths: Human Rights Comment - a five step plan, 2017 

CPT: Immigration Detention Factsheet, 2017 

European Migration Network: Synthesis Report, 2014 

FRA: Alternatives to detention, compilation of key materials, 2015European legal and policy framework on immigration detention of children, 2017 

Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Advisory Opinion OC 21-14Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Advisory Opinion OC 21-14

International Detention Coalition: There Are Alternatives, 2015 

IOM: International Standards on Immigration Detention, 2016: International Standards on Immigration Detention, 2016 

Odysseus Academic Network, Made Real project: Alternatives to Immigration and Asylum Detention in the EU, 2014 

UNHCR: Global Strategy Beyond Detention 2014-2019Alternatives to detention Options paper 1, 2015Alternatives to detention Options paper 2, 2015Detention Guidelines, 2012Position on migrant children detention, 2017 

European Court of Human Rights case law:  Mubilanzila Mayeka and Kaniki Mitunga v. Belgium (2006)Rahimi c. Grèce (2011)Saadi v. the United Kingdom (2008)Popov v. France (2012)A.M. c. France (2016)A.B. and Others v. France (2016)Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (2016)De Tommaso v. Italy (2017)