Our 2021/22 Annual Report: A momentous year for children’s human rights in Scotland 

2021/2022 Annual Report

Today we publish our 2021/2022 Annual Report.  

It covers the period from April 2021 until the end of March 2022, which begins just as the country was emerging from the second lockdown. The pandemic continued to impact a range of children’s human rights, such as the right to education, to health, to play, and to family life. We have been incredibly busy with work on the pandemic too. 

What impact has the pandemic had? 

A shield with the Scottish flag on it guarding against coronavirus.

All children are dealing with the effects of the pandemic, particularly those whose rights were already most at risk. We have fought for their human rights to be respected in law, policy, and practice. Two areas of particular focus were the educational impact, including the SQA exams and assessments, and the rollout of vaccinations. 

Involving children and young people 

Participation is always at the heart of our work. We travelled the length and breadth of Scotland with our Roadshow to meet children face-to-face in their own communities to find out what matters most to them. We welcomed our new group of Young Advisers. 

When Glasgow hosted COP-26 and COY-16, we made sure children and young people’s voices were heard at the heart of decision-making. 

What else have we done? 

Our work to make sure children in conflict with the law have their rights respected remains ongoing. The minimum age of criminal responsibility has been increased from eight to 12, but this is still far too low. Children should never be in prison – every child in the justice system has the right to be treated with humanity and dignity. Our investigation into children potentially being unlawfully deprived of their liberty in secure care was published. 

We have focused on our other strategic priorities of child poverty and mental health. Poverty is the most significant human rights issue facing children and young people in Scotland today, and we have continued to push both the Scottish and UK governments to tackle it. 

Incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 

Illustration representing UNCRC Incorporation: Half sun above a semicircle containing half the Scottish flag.

This year we should have been celebrating the commencement of incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law. Delays from the Scottish Government in addressing amendments resulting from a Supreme Court challenge mean children still do not have their rights enshrined in law. We urge the Scottish Government to bring the Bill back to the Scottish Parliament and commit to immediate commencement once passed. Children should not face yet more delays. 

International work

At the international level, Commissioner Bruce Adamson chaired the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) with Covid-19 as our thematic priority and led on the initial ENOC response to the war in Ukraine. 

Read the Report

We have both a full version of our Annual Report as well as an Easy-Read version available for download. We also have a version for younger people.


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