Programme for Government commits to furthering child rights

Date: 21st September 2017
Category: General measures of implementation

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently outlined her Programme for Government for the coming year which included several positive commitments to children's rights.

The issues related to children's rights which were addressed in the Programme for Government include:

  • Support John Finnie MSP's legislative proposals to remove the existing defence for parents and outlaw all forms of physical punishment and prepare for implementation of the change in the law, including raising public awareness;
  • Commence a three-year programme to raise awareness of children's rights, including among children and young people themselves as part of our Year of Young People;
  • Increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12, including measures for exceptional cases where it is necessary to investigate harmful behaviours by those under 12 years old and to recognise the impact on victims;
  • Provide training, advice and information on the need to secure consent to sharing information by Named Persons and in developing a child's plan;
  • Develop a young inspectors programme within Education Scotland's school inspections programme;
  • Implement key measures in the National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People, including:
  • Hosting events to help parents and carers support their children's online activity;
  • The Programme for Government also includes many aspects that will impact human rights more generally. These include implementing a new Race Equality Action Plan, consulting on reforming gender recognition legislation, and tackling 'period poverty' by providing free access to sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities.

Together welcomes the commitments to children's rights featured in the Programme for Government. In particular, the commitment to increase the minimal age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 in line with minimum international standards and the commitment to support John Finnie MSP's legislative proposals regarding the equal protection of children from violence. These are both key issues that were raised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in their Concluding Observations last year and Together therefore welcomes the progress being made on these matters.

Together also very much welcomes the decision by Scottish Government to undertake a comprehensive audit on the most practical and effective way to further embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation, including the option of full incorporation into domestic law.