Creating a fairer Britain
'The Commission welcomes the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child providing for a complaints mechanism. The Protocol will enable children who are victims of abuses and violations of their rights to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child but only where their government has signed and ratified the Protocol.
The Optional Protocol was adopted on 22 December 2010 and is now open for signature and ratification by States.'
Find out more about the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report on UK performance
The Convention is a universally agreed set of human rights standards which the UK government ratified in 1991. The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. These include basic human rights such as the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. All children aged 18 and under are protected under the Convention in the UK.
However this important Convention has not yet been incorporated into British law.
The UK government has ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and filed its first report on 6 June 2011 under that Optional Protocol.
The government has also withdrawn its reservations under articles 22 (protection of rights for refugee children) and 37 (c) (separating children in custody from adult prisoners).
The UK's most recent report was considered during the Committee's 49th Session held on 23-24 September 2008. In response to the UK's findings, the Commission produced a 'shadow' report which assesses how well we are doing in Britain at protecting children's rights.
Other concerns highlighted in our report were:
The UK will have to report to the UN Committee again in 2014 when the Commission will again be using its powers as a UN accredited NHRI to assess the UK government's progress.
Optional Protocol to provide a communications procedure
An Optional Protocol to allow complaints has now been approved by the Human Rights Council. The General Assembly is expected to adopt the Protocol by the end of this year.
In Wales, the 'Proposed Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure' imposes a duty on Welsh Ministers and the First Minister to have due regard to the rights and obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and its Optional Protocols, when making decisions of a strategic nature about how to exercise functions which are exercisable by them. The proposed Measure also requires Welsh Ministers to produce children's schemes and publish reports on compliance with the duty.
On 16 December 2010, the Government announced that the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre would close to children with immediate effect, following a review of the detention of children, and family returns. For more information see the Home Office press release.
This positive step for children's rights is one which the Commission (along with a large number of other organisations) called for in our submission and evidence before the UN on the UK government's compliance the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2008. The UN in their Concluding Observations after the examination recommended that detention of children for immigration purposes should only be used as a last resort.