Second evidence session by UK Joint Committee on Human Rights on UNCRC compliance

Date: 11th February 2015
Category: Reporting to and monitoring the UNCRC

The UK Joint Committee on Human Rights is running a short inquiry into UK compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and has now held two evidence sessions.

The UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights has a remit to consider matters relating to human rights across the UK and has decided to review its work since the 2010 Election in the area of children's rights. The Committee plan to publish a report before the end of this UK Parliament (30th March) assessing:

(i) the progress that has been made by the Government since its December 2010 commitment to give "due consideration" to the UNCRC when making new policy or legislation and
(ii) (ii) some specific aspects of the UK's record of compliance with the Convention.

The Committee's end-of-Parliament assessment takes place against the backdrop of the forthcoming review of UK compliance with the UNCRC by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is set to take place in 2016.

The first evidence session took place on 4th February 2015 where the Committee took evidence from Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England. The second evidence session took place on 11th February 2015 where the Committee took evidence from the following witnesses from the children's sector:

- Paola Uccellari, Director, Children's Rights Alliance England;
- Natalie Williams, Policy Adviser, The Children's Society;
- Dragan Nastic, Senior Policy Adviser, Unicef UK; and
- Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Youth Justice and Strategic Litigation Fellow, Just for Kids Law.

During both evidence sessions, concerns were raised of continued violations of children's rights in relation to mental health, legal aid and juvenile justice. These are issues also faced by children in Scotland which were highlighted in Together's State of Children's Rights report 2014.

Although there are many common issues in furthering children's rights across the UK, the evidence sessions have thus far focused specifically on experiences in England. No representatives from the devolved nations have yet been called to give evidence. It is important that the Committee's inquiry includes an assessment of how the UK Government's exercise of reserved powers impacts on the rights of children living in the devolved nations and considers the complexities of devolution. Together is currently working to raise these concerns and has sent a letter to the Committee to address the above.