UN Calls for Greater Protection of Children’s Rights in NI

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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued its report on the United Kingdom. In a wide ranging set of recommendations regarding children’s rights, the Committee has called on the UK Government, including the NI Executive to:

• Take immediate and effective measures to protect children from violence by non-State actors involved in paramilitary-style attacks as well as from recruitment by such actors into violent activities, including through measures relating to transitional and criminal justice.

• Prohibit as a matter of priority all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of all legal defences, such as reasonable chastisement.

• Decriminalize abortion in Northern Ireland in all circumstances and review its legislation with a view to ensuring girls’ access to safe abortion and post-abortion care services.

• Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in accordance with acceptable international standards from 10 to at least 12 years of age.

• Expedite the approval and enactment of the Adoption and Children Bill in Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the UN recommendations, Chief Commissioner Les Allamby stated:

“The UN has set out legislative and policy priorities for the NI Executive. Protecting children’s rights must be at the core of what our government strives to achieve during the new Assembly mandate. Providing access to safe termination of pregnancy for girls, improving the lives of looked after children, protecting children from paramilitary harm and ensuring young children are not criminalised, these issues are indicative of the basic human rights that devolution should deliver.”

ENDS

Further information:

Please contact Claire Martin on: (028) 9024 3987)

Notes to editors

1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child applies to Children and Young People under 18 only.

2. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Childs examination of the UK took place at the United Nations offices in Geneva in May 2016.

3. Read more about the examination here.

4. The Committee has now issued its report and in relation to Northern Ireland it has also called on the UK Government to:

• Ensure that secure accommodation (for children) in Northern Ireland is only used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest possible period of time, address the reasons for repeated or lengthy stays in such accommodation, and develop alternatives to secure accommodation.

• In Northern Ireland, actively promote a fully integrated education system and carefully monitor the provision of shared education, with the participation of children, in order to ensure that it facilitates social integration.

5. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s full report to the Committee on the Commission’s website www.nihrc.org

6. The Commission’s ongoing legal challenge on Termination of Pregnancy Laws.

From 2014 the Commission has been in legal proceedings to challenge the compatibility of the law on termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland on the basis that failure to provide access to termination in circumstances of serious malformation of the foetus, rape and incest is in breach of the rights of women and girls. The case will be heard before the Court of Appeal on 20-23 June 2016.


10 Jun 2016