On May 6th and 7th 2014 a two-day conference in Brnò (Czech Republic) placed under the aegis of Sub-project PF134, which was developed in close collaboration with the Czech NGO Ceskò-britska and the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE), with the welcomed support of the Helvetic Confederation, in order to debate the important questions relative to children's rights and child protection.

Brnomay2014

The objective of Sub-Project PF134 is to question the controversial necessity for social protection authorities to adopt measures of residential institutionalization for children in difficult situations, and to examine the international standards which regulate placement, particularly the Convention on the rights of the child, the Guidelines for children deprived of their family environment, and the "Quality for Children" standards. The previous phases of the Sub-Project consisted in the consideration of the international legal foundations, a visit of an institution in Switzerland (February 2014), the production of didactic material, and the May conference entitled "Participation and cooperative approaches when working with children at risk and their families".

Mr. Rolf Widmer, Director of the Swiss Foundation of International Social Services, and Mr. Jean Zermatten, Director of the IDE, acted as invited experts and hosted the two-day debate which took place in the Museum of Romani culture in Brnò. They namely discussed participatory approach (based on art. 12 of the CRC) in all forms of protective interventions, including placements, and the role and functions of the right to every child to have his/her best interest evaluated and seriously taken into account (art. 3 al. 1 CRC). They also lead workshops which discussed concrete cases which face professionals such as those present in the workshop.

One of the great questions is relative to placement as a real, final-recourse solution, in conditions which are respectful of the procedural guarantees aimed at children and their families. The aim is, to favour, whenever possible, alternatives to placement based on approaches of the family placement type. But the said decisions must also respect criteria relative to quality.

The best interest of the child must therefore be at the centre of all decisions. The elements that need to be taken into account are not listed exhaustively, but are based on the recommendations of the Committee on the rights of the child in its General Comment no. 14, and begin by taking the child's opinion into account. Family participation, whenever possible and opportune, is an exigency not only dictated by the respect of rights, but also by the efficacy of the measure (there are situations where this is not possible, since the interest of the child of parents do not always coincide).

An issue that is equally important concerns the representations of the opinion of the child, as well as the role of the lawyer and of the specialist (psychologist, or even psychiatrist).

By the close of the two-day conference, the excellent collaboration between Czech and Swiss institutions was underlined and put forward as an example of a good practice.

Page on IDE's programme in the Czech Republic.

Picture gallery of these 2 days.