20 Nov 2009

UK Commissioners declare that children's rights are being breached

CHILDREN being demonised, children living in poverty and children still not getting the vital services they are entitled to, shows the need for a comprehensive action plan to address breaches in children's rights.

Speaking on the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Gerry Campbell, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said the Executive must do more for children's rights.

All four Children's Commissioners in the UK are to issue a joint statement calling for urgent action across the country to support children.

Mr Campbell warned that on this anniversary, children were at a greater risk of being affected during the current economic downturn - and that child poverty represented both individual hardship and multiple breaches of children's rights.

Last year the UN's Committee on the Rights of the Child delivered its verdict on the state of children's rights in Northern Ireland, but the NI Executive has, as yet, to respond formally.

"The Committee identified the need for urgent action," said Mr Campbell. "While we welcome the forthcoming statement from the Executive, committing to respond positively to the Committee's Concluding Observations, it is disappointing to see how little progress has been made in implementing change."

"What is needed is a comprehensive, funded and time bound action plan detailing how the Executive will deliver on the UN Committee's Concluding Observations."

"The consequences of budget cuts, particularly in early intervention services, can have a subsequent profound effect on children which, in turn, may lead to increased crisis intervention costs in future years.

"We will continue to hold Government to account, monitor actions and report if they let our children and young people down. Twenty years on it is time for them deliver on the promises they made when they signed the Convention."

In coming weeks NICCY will launch a 12 month campaign, engaging with children and young people to challenge Government to take action on the key issues affecting their lives.

Notes for editors

  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed by the UK, together with almost every country in the world, on 20th November, 1989.
  • Every four years the UK Government and the devolved assemblies, have to report on progress towards the standards set out in the Convention.
  • In June 2008 NICCY, together with the other three UK Children's Commissioners presented to the Committee.
  • The Committee's Concluding Observations [Report and Recommendations] were published.
  • The UK Government and the three devolved Executives were to publish their response and action plan to meet the Committee's recommendations within a year.
  • As of the date of issue of this release the Northern Ireland Executive is the only part of the UK not to publish its response and action plan.

Issues to be addressed in NICCY's coming 12-month campaign:

  • January - Poverty
  • February - Family Life
  • March - Looked after Children
  • April - Participation
  • May - Asylum-seeking children
  • June - Play and Leisure
  • July - Children with disabilities
  • August - Community safety/stereotypes
  • September - Education
  • October - Emotional Health and wellbeing
  • November - Youth Justice
  • December - Celebration of young people

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