Press release - 719(2007

Commissioner Hammarberg: “States should secure an easier access to justice for children, migrants and asylum-seekers”

Lanzarote, 25.10.2007 – In a discussion with the Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe's member States gathered in Lanzarote (Spain) today, the Human Rights Commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, affirmed that States and international organisations must do their utmost to secure a fair and easier access to justice for children, migrants and asylum-seekers. “There is a need for child-friendly procedures for children to access and understand the courts”, said the Commissioner.

Recognising the topical importance of the Lanzarote Conference, Mr Hammarberg spoke in favour of a simplification of procedures, stressing that the judicial system must adapt to children’s and migrants’ needs to guarantee that they are treated equally and on the same basis as nationals. “Legal procedures are sometimes described as a marathon race. They are long, but often rewarding at the end. However, there are lots of hurdles for children and migrants. Our duty is to eliminate these hurdles” he said.

Acknowledging that important improvements have been made by European States in recent years, the Commissioner called for enhanced standards and guidelines on these issues and for a “justice as accessible as possible for every one, vulnerable or not, child or adult, migrant or national”.

Mr Hammarberg also underlined the importance of the new Council of Europe’s Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, which was opened for signature during the conference. “Governments should take into serious consideration this Convention and the values it conveys” he said. “Its ratification would be an important step to further ensure a broader protection of children”.

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The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent, non-judicial institution within the Council of Europe (CoE), mandated to promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member States of the CoE. Elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE, the present Commissioner, Mr Thomas Hammarberg, took up his function on 1 April 2006.

For further information regarding the Commissioner’s activities, please visit

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