Statement: Commissioner urges Scottish and UK Governments to remove immunity for Scottish Ministers

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of Katie Allan and William Lindsay who find themselves unable to seek redress for the tragic deaths of their children while in the custody of the State.  

“It is essential that there is accountability for human rights violations and an effective remedy. Where the State is responsible for the death of a child, their family must be able to seek redress. More than 20 years ago, the UK Government committed to removing Crown immunity for health and safety offences. We need immediate action on this. I am calling on the Scottish Government to work with UK counterparts to remove this protection for Scottish Ministers. The Scottish Government should also consider whether, and how, it might be possible to waive immunity in Katie and William’s cases.   

“No child should ever be detained in prison in Scotland. My office has repeatedly raised this issue at the United Nations and the Scottish Parliament. I have been clear with the Scottish Government that this practice does not comply with international human rights law and must end now. The Scottish Government says children will no longer be detained in prison by 2024, but that is too long to wait. Hundreds of children will be affected between now and then, and there remain concerns for children in Polmont about Iimited access to mental health and other therapeutic supports; excessive time spent in cells; routine strip-searching; authorisation of pain-inducing restraint; lack of purposeful activities including access to work, leisure, libraries and education; lack of family contact; and lack of access to telephones. 

“Our failure to properly respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights is continuing to have a devastating impact on the lives of children and their families and it must end now.” 

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