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Furthering children's rights

Published: 21 Mar 2016 11:30

Scotland to publish response to UN committee.

The Scottish Government has today published its full response to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child's List of Issues.

The document highlights important differences in approach and opinion on key human and children's rights issues from the UK Member State's report, Children's Minister Aileen Campbell has announced.

The publication sets out the actions taken to protect and promote children's rights in Scotland, including progress made in implementing many of the ground-breaking provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. It also reiterates Scotland's opposition to the proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act by the UK Government.

The response also includes:

  • Scotland's opposition to changes being made by the UK Government to the Child Poverty Act 2010, in particular proposals for revised targets which do not take income into account;
  • Scotland's commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of children arriving with their families as part of the Syrian Resettlement Programme, which has seen over 400 refugees arrive since 2015;
  • An outline of measures to strengthen children's rights in Scotland, including free early learning and childcare expanded to 600 hours per year for 3 and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, free school meals for P1-3, and extended rights to support for young people in care and care leavers.

The full response comes as the Scottish Government launches a consultation on draft guidance to local authorities, health boards and other public bodies relating to duties around children's rights and children's services planning.

Ms Campbell said:

"Publishing this report not only allows us to make clear Scotland's different approach to the UK Government, but to highlight all that this Government has been doing to promote and support children's rights in recent years.

"It sets out our investment in measures to mitigate the worst aspects of the UK Government's welfare reform, helping children and families who are living in poverty and assisting all young people to achieve their full potential.

"We have gone further than any previous Scottish Government to ensure the rights of children and young people are protected, respected and realised, and to support them to have their voices heard. I am proud of the progress we have made in Scotland and the actions we are taking to further strengthen children's rights.

"This Government takes human rights very seriously. That is why this response reiterates our opposition to any attempt by the UK Government to repeal the Human Rights Act or to replace it with a 'British Bill of Rights'. We fundamentally disagree with the UK Government's stance on this issue, and I am pleased that our position on this matter enjoys not just the support of the Scottish Parliament, but also a wide cross-section of Scottish civil society.

"We made clear our commitment to children's rights and wellbeing in our Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. In June 2015, we introduced new duties on all Scottish Ministers under the Act to take account of children's rights in developing policies and legislation. The draft guidance being consulted on today reflects the extension of duties on children's rights to public bodies, ensuring the right preventions, safeguards and support is in place."

Notes to editors

Scotland's response can be found: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/families/rights.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out a holistic framework for the rights of all children and young people. The UK Parliament ratified the UNCRC in 1991.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors the UK's implementation of the Convention through a cyclical process of written reporting and oral hearings.

The Scottish Government's submission to the Fifth UK Government Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was published in June 2013. The UK State Party Report, dated May 2014, can be accessed at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/uploads/Pdfs/The%20UK's%20Fifth%20Periodic%20Review%20Report%20on%20the%20UNCRC.pdf.

The List of Issues was published by the UN Committee on the rights of the Child in November 2015, outlining children's rights issues where the UK was required to provide more information.

The List of Issues is available on the UN's website at the attached link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRC/Pages/CRCIndex.aspx.

The UK sessional hearing before the UN Committee is due to take place on 23/24 May 2016. The Scottish Ministers will consider fully the UN Committee's concluding observations when these are published.

The Scottish Government will also publish a response to the list of issues raised by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights later this week. The UK record under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will be examined by the Committee in Geneva in June.