24th March 2015

Children’s Commissioner commenting on “The UK’s Compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”

Commenting on “The UK’s Compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” published today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Anne Longfield OBE, Children’s Commissioner for England said:

“The Government’s record on children’s issues has been mixed. It made a bold move in 2010 when it promised to give ‘due regard’ to children’s rights in the development of law and policy and I welcome the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ review of progress on this commitment published today.

“Whilst there have been positive improvements for some children and young people, for example, those with special educational needs through reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014, in early years and also through the reduction in the number of children held in immigration detention, there are also entrenched issues which the Government has failed to address.

“We have determined the impact on children and young people of a number of Government decisions such as changes to legal aid and Budget decision by carrying out detailed evidence-based assessments. This is why I mirror the Committee’s disappointment with the Government’s failure to get to grips with child poverty, which has impacted most severely on the most disadvantaged such as disabled children and those in single parent households. I also support the Committee’s recommendation that responsibility for the children’s rights agenda should be elevated to a Cabinet level portfolio and, the Committee’s wish to see the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child fully incorporated into the law.

“Whilst I welcome their acknowledgement that any extension of the Commissioner’s powers to look into individual cases would need to be adequately resourced, a step in the right direction would be for the next Government to ratify the Optional Protocol which would allow individual children to have the right of petition directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. I, alongside the other UK Children’s Commissioner’s will be reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Government’s record on children’s rights later this year. I will be making sure that these, alongside other issues are included in that report.”