Report Shines Spotlight on Children and Young Peoples Rights

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12 August 2015

On International Youth Day the Human Rights Commission has published its report to the United Nations Committee ahead of the upcoming examination by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Commission has identified over 30 areas in Northern Ireland which require attention.

NIHRC Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby commented:

“This report provides us with an invaluable opportunity to shine a spotlight on young people’s rights. The Commission has highlighted a number of recommendations made by the United Nations in 2008 that have not yet been implemented and therefore require urgent action. These include raising the age of criminal responsibility, ending corporal punishment and reducing the use of remand for children in the criminal justice system.”

The Commission has advised that the UN Committee should ask the UK Government, including the Northern Ireland Executive to:

  • Take immediate action to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 12 years of age.
  • Condemn the ongoing attacks by paramilitary organisations and ask the UK Government and the N.I Executive to take immediate and effective action to address the issue of paramilitary attacks against children.
  • Ban smacking of children without delay.
  • End Academic Selection-The UN Committee called for academic selection to be abolished in 2008 and despite the end of the 11+, the current system of testing has allowed a ‘two-tier culture’ to remain.

Les Allamby added:

“The purpose of this report is to highlight what areas we believe the United Nations Committee should focus on as it prepares to examine the UK Governments human rights record. We want to make sure Northern Ireland’s circumstances are at the forefront of this process. Human Rights belong to our children and young people. It is important that they are adequately protected.”

The report marks the first stage in the United Nations examination process and the Human Rights Commission welcomes any public feedback as we prepare our future submissions.

ENDS

Further information:

For further information please contact Claire Martin on: (028) 9024 3987).

Notes to editors

1. The NIHRC submitted its report to the Committee in July 2015. The performance of the United Kingdom will be considered by the Committee at a pre-session working group in October 2015. The Committee’s examination of the UK will take place at the United Nations offices in Geneva in June 2016.

2. This report marks the first stage in the Commission’s engagement with the UN Committee in this process and the Commission would therefore value any feedback as we prepare our future submissions.

3. Smacking- Corporal Punishment: Article 2 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 remains in force. This provides for the defence of reasonable punishment in respect of common assault tried summarily.

4. Access the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s full report to the Committee here:

5. As part of the NIHRC’s engagement with the United Nations and Council of Europe treaty monitoring processes, it presents this submission regarding the UK’s Fifth Periodic Report on compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child(the Convention) to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child(the Committee) 72nd Session.

6. The Commission is one of the three ‘A’ status National Human Rights Institutions in the UK. As a National Human Rights Institution the NIHRC engages with and reports to the United Nations’ and Council of Europe’s treaty monitoring processes.

7. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a statutory public body established in 1999 to promote and protect human rights. In accordance with the Paris Principles the Commission reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of measures undertaken by the UK Government to promote and protect human rights, specifically within Northern Ireland (NI).


12 Aug 2015