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Combining forces in the name of children’s rights

Gary Seath 9 months ago

Influencing Policy Media

Combining forces in the name of children’s rights

Forces Children Scotland has combined forces with Together: The Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, to call on decision-makers to commit to ensuring the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child reaches its full potential.

The charity has added its name to a letter sent to the Cabinet Secretary of the Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee, ahead of an evidence-giving session taking place on Tuesday 31 October 2023.

The letter sets out four key commitments to ensure the Bill meets its full potential:

  • Set out a clear timescale for a legislative review and commit to bringing significant laws impacting children into the scope of the Bill over time.
  • Using forthcoming legislative opportunities including the Promise Bill and Education Reform to bring priority laws impacting children into the scope of the Bill.
  • Minimum future Scottish Parliament amendments to UK Acts to ensure the UNCRC Bill continues to have maximum effect insofar as possible
  • Continue to resource the UNCRC Implementation Programme beyond March 2024.

The UK Supreme Court judgement ruled that the UNCRC Bill went beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

Since then, MSPs have voted to reconsider it and the Equalities, Human Rights, and Civil Justice Committee will be taking the lead.

Proposed amendments provide that the Bill’s compatibility duty will only apply to laws originating from the Scottish Parliament–the bill will not apply to UK legislation even if this falls within an area that is devolved to Scotland.

Although the scope will therefore be narrower than the original version, it will still offer an additional layer of protection for children’s rights in certain areas and contribute to broader culture change. We want to emphasise the importance of the UNCRC Bill as a step on Scotland’s children’s rights journey.

There is continuing cross-party support for the Bill–as demonstrated in a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament.

The amendments will be scrutinised by the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee and expected to be debated before Christmas 2023. This is the first time a Bill has entered the reconsideration stage.

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, will be giving evidence to the committee alongside the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Scottish Human Rights Commission and Law Society Scotland.

Children from armed forces communities have told us that they feel that they are a seldom-heard group.

Did you know that there are over 12,500 children and young from armed forces and veteran families across Scotland?

They have said that many civilian educators, professionals, and decision-makers simply do not understand how many of their unique experiences living in forces families can affect their ability to realise their potential and thrive.

Children and young people from this community have called upon those supporting them, or making important decisions about their future, to adopt an enhanced children’s rights approach to meeting their unique support needs.

That’s why it’s so important the UNCRC Incorporation Bill is passed into law for this specific group of children and young people, in order to meet their unique support needs concerning mental health, education, making important transitions, and much more.

That’s why we recently launched our Influencing Strategy.


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