‘Stop excluding children from Brexit dialogue’ – Together attends UK Parliament event

Categories: General measures of implementation and Other human rights treaties and mechanisms

21st September 2017

Representatives from Together, the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland and Children in Scotland attended a special event at the House of Commons in Westminster on the 13th September to urge parliamentarians to listen to children and young people and seek their views on Brexit.

The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland, Bruce Adamson, Director of Together, Juliet Harris, and Children in Scotland's Head of Policy, Amy Woodhouse recently attended a House of Commons event on 'Children's Rights Following Brexit'.

The group, which is coordinating to raise the profile of children's rights and Brexit at UK-level, made the following key calls:

  • Despite inheriting the full impact of Brexit as they grow up, children have been excluded from discussions about it, both in the run-up to the referendum and since. A coherent structure now needs to be put in place to ensure they are involved and kept informed.
  • Children and young people have benefited significantly from EU membership and are disproportionately affected by the issues raised pre-Brexit and by withdrawal.
  • Politicians at the forefront of the Brexit debate need to acknowledge and better understand these issues and give children's views the platform they deserve now.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland said:

"Children and young people in Scotland, and across the UK, have the right to contribute their views to the Brexit negotiations and should be given meaningful opportunities to do so. Information on how Brexit could affect their lives should be provided in a child-friendly format and then their views sought in both formal and informal ways.

"The EU has enacted a significant number of legal instruments which give direct entitlement for children in areas including child migration, asylum, child protection and paediatric medicine.

"Legislation that keeps children safe covers child trafficking, child abduction and child sexual exploitation. Much of this has been transposed into domestic law and this has to continue post Brexit. But what is often forgotten is the cross-border EU activity that supports all of this. One example is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) which provides a fast track expedition procedure across EU Member States. This ensures those who commit crimes against children are arrested and returned to their country to answer charges. Scotland also needs to be able to continue to access EU data, intelligence sharing and security infrastructure."

Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said:

"We're only just beginning to understand the full impact that leaving the European Union could have on children and young people. From family law and child protection through to tackling child trafficking and poverty, the European Union provides children and young people with fundamental rights and protections that are now at risk. In representing the children's sector at today's event, we hope parliamentarians begin to recognise and understand the importance of ensuring children and young people's rights are at the heart of every decision made from now on.

Children in Scotland's Chief Executive, Jackie Brock, said:

"According to YouGov, 71% of 18-24 year-olds in the UK voted to Remain in last year's referendum. The voices of this generation, 16- and 17-year-olds who were disenfranchised from voting in the referendum, and younger children, are being sidelined in the Brexit debate. Yet it's they who will most feel the impact of our withdrawal from the EU."

"There is a clear democratic deficit being reflected in the Brexit negotiations. We need our politicians to take notice, demonstrate awareness, and bring children's voices into the heart of this debate."

Prior to the House of Commons event Amy Woodhouse spoke at a rally outside Parliament organised by the3million, a support network campaigning to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK.

She said: "We want to use this opportunity to articulate the grave concerns we have and why we think Brexit will have a disproportionate impact on children compared to the rest of the UK population."

The event discussed the possible implications of Brexit for children across the UK, including plans for child-related EU law within the EU Withdrawal Bill, and the social and economic rights of EU migrant and non-EU nationality children in the UK.

Following the event, there has been growing recognition of the urgent need to include children and young people in Brexit negotiations. Adding to the children's sector calls is European Parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt who is supporting the campaign to include the voices of young people in the EU talks.

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