Children and Young People Bill falls short, warns SHRC

Date: 29th July 2013
Category: General measures of implementation

Responding to the call for written evidence on the recently launched Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill, the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) said proposed duties on ministers regarding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) failed to go far enough.

Under section 1 of the Bill, which will be considered by the Education and Culture Committee after summer recess, Scottish Government ministers are required to "keep under consideration" how to ensure better implementation of the UNCRC and promote public awareness of the rights of children.

"The Commission considers that the language contained in this provision is too weak and gives too much discretion to the Ministers to ensure compliance," says their submission. "As a consequence both the policy aim and government accountability are likely to be unsuccessful."

The Commission has reiterated calls similar to those of Together, for the full incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law - the Convention is currently reflected in legislation and policy where possible - with the Scottish Government urged to develop a timetable.

However, in its absence, the SHRC stressed section 1 should be "considerably strengthened" and extended to all Scottish public authorities. Existing measures within the Bill require certain public bodies only to report every three years on progress in 'giving better or further effect' to the UNCRC.

The Commission has also called on ministers to demonstrate how the impact of the Bill on children's human rights has been assessed in the absence of a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) prior to its introduction to parliament in April. Moving forward use of HRIA, including child rights impact assessments, should be promoted it adds.

  • Read the Scottish Human Rights Commission submission to the Education and Culture Committee here.