The UK's four Children's Commissioners join forces to assess the reality of children's lives
9 June 2008
The Commissioners will deliver a hard-hitting joint report in Geneva on the performance of the Government and devolved administrations, which highlights the most serious breaches.
The report, launched today (9 June), outlines how children's rights across the UK have worsened in some aspects, and in others there have been no change since the last time the UN Committee reported on the Government's children's rights record in 2002.
Commitments to improve children and young people's lives in recent years are welcomed by the Children's Commissioners.
But serious concerns remain about the significant breaches of children's rights that exist in the UK. A major issue for the Commissioners is the public attitude towards children and young people, which increasingly demonises them in our society.
The report identifies eighteen areas of common concern across the UK regions, including:
Ongoing methods to tackle child poverty
Persistent inequalities experienced by children
The failure to consistently take account of the child's best interest in decision-making, for example in the youth justice system in England and Wales
The unsatisfactory treatment of children seeking asylum
Alongside these concerns is a series of over 100 recommendations, all fundamental in assisting the Government to realise fully children's rights across the United Kingdom.
Since the UK ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1991, the Government has been obliged to submit progress reports to the UN Committee every five years, outlining how the state is fulfilling its commitment to children and young people. This year, for the first time, the UK's four Children's Commissioners have joined forces to submit a joint report to the UN Committee on their experiences of monitoring how the state treats children and young people.
Speaking ahead of the visit and on behalf of the four UK Children's Commissioners, Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, said:
"Our joint report is evidence of the Commissioners' commitment to work together to make things better for all children and young people in the UK through promoting the implementation of the UNCRC.
"We have highlighted areas that remain a concern, including significant differences in juvenile justice in some parts of the UK and the public's attitudes towards children and young people, and also identified some success stories, including how we have challenged discriminatory practices such as the use of the Mosquito device on young people."
She added: "We look forward to briefing the Committee in Geneva to outline the findings of our report and to work with the Committee to make sure we can help improve things for children and young people in a tangible, sustainable and meaningful way."
After hearing from the Children's Commissioners in Geneva on 11th June, the Committee will send representatives to the UK to examine firsthand how the country has embraced the Convention. In September 2008, a Government delegation will appear before the Committee to be questioned on its implementation of children's rights before the Committee drafts its final report. The Committee's report will set out its assessment of progress in implementing the Convention in the UK and it will hold the Government accountable through clear recommendations.
Notes to editors:
1. For a full copy of the four UK Children's Commissioners' report, on 9 June please log on to: www.11MILLION.org.uk or contact the media office for an advance embargoed copy
2. For further information about the UNCRC reporting process, please log on to http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/index.htm
3. A joint report to the UN Committee by England's children's charities, co-ordinated by the Children's Rights Alliance for England, is also launched today (9 June), along with the children and young people's report from the 'Get ready for Geneva' project. Already published are reports from charities and children and young people in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Media Office contacts:
For further information and to arrange interviews with the Children's Commissioners, please contact Denise Malcolm on 05511 437 834 / 0844 800 9113 or 07920 765 454