9 Jun 2008

NICCY joins forces with UK Colleagues to explain reality of children’s lives 

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, will join the other UK’s Children’s Commissioners as they tell the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child the state of children’s rights across the country.

Ms Lewsley and her fellow commissioners will deliver a hard-hitting joint report in Geneva on the performance of the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, which highlights the most serious breaches of children’s rights.

The report launched today (Monday) outlines how children’s rights across the UK have worsened in some aspects, and in others there has 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 in Northern Ireland:

  • Ongoing methods to tackle child poverty
  • Persistent inequalities experienced by children
  • Retention of innocent children’s DNA by PSNI
  • Discrimination against various groups of children such as disabled and children from minority groups

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.

“I’m looking forward to travelling to Geneva with my counterparts to discuss the findings of our report and to work with the government,” said Ms Lewsley. “We know that there are many issues that need to be addressed by our Government – not least the fact that they need to listen to children and young people.” 

After hearing from the Children’s Commissioners in Geneva on 11th June, the Committee will send representatives to the UK to examine first hand 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 observations. 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.

Ends 

Notes to editors: 

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 the 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.”

For further information about the reporting process, please log on to http://www.ohchr.org

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org