Together meets with UK Joint Committee on Human Rights

Date: 19th January 2016
Category: Reporting to and monitoring the UNCRC, General measures of implementation

On 14th January 2016, Together's Director & Chair met with the JCHR in Edinburgh to discuss the landscape & culture of children's rights in Scotland & across the UK.

The meeting included an engaging dialogue between all members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) and representatives from Together and the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland.

The JCHR visit to Scotland aimed to raise awareness of its work and to encourage involvement in their future inquiries. Meetings also took place with the Scottish Youth Parliament, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee.

Some of the key messages that Together communicated during the meeting were:

  • A concern over the UK Government proposal to repeal of the Human Rights Act and the detrimental impacts that this would have on the rights of children and young people in Scotland and the UK.
  • The importance of holding the UK Government to account in ensuring that the response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's List of Issues (as part of the current UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) periodic review) accurately reflects any significant differences across the devolved nations. Together requested that the Joint Committee write to Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP (Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities) to ask what steps are being taken to ensure that devolved issues are properly represented in the UK Government List of Issues response, and that devolved officials are included in the delegation to Geneva.
  • Ensure the devolved nations are fully involved and consulted in any forthcoming proposals on a Bill of Rights. Together confirmed that no further information had been received regarding a UK consultation since the visit of Dominic Raab MP to Scotland in November 2015. Together was clear that the consultation with devolved nations needs to be ongoing, meaningful and robust.
  • Together communicated that although there is disappointment that the Scottish Government has not yet taken the opportunity to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 is a positive step forward in the protection, promotion and fulfilment of children's rights in Scotland. Reference was made to the previous JCHR report recommendations and positive statements from the Scottish Government regarding incorporation of international treaties and resisting repeal of the Human Rights Act.
  • Together raised the recommendation included in the previous JCHR report on implementation of the UNCRC in the UK, regarding ratification of the Optional Protocol 3 to the UNCRC on a Communications Procedure. Together highlighted that fulfilment of this recommendation could be a timely demonstration of commitment to children's rights, given the current UK examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Find out more about the Joint Committee and its remit here.

The Committee chair Harriet Harman chaired the meeting and ahead of the visit, stated:

"It is particularly important that we build links here so that our reports give full consideration to the impact of human rights policy on the whole of the United Kingdom, including the devolved nations and independent legal systems within it."

Together looks forward to continued dialogue with the JCHR: Keep updated of Together's future engagements and communications with the Joint Committee on our website and forthcoming e-newsletters.