Commissioners receive response from Joint Committee on Human Rights

16 March 2015

The Children’s Commissioners of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have received a response to their co-written letter to the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR).

The JCHR has been conducting a short Inquiry into:

  • how well the UK complies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • the progress made by the UK Government since its December 2010 commitment to give due consideration to the UNCRC when making new policy or legislation.

While the Inquiry’s scope includes some issues around recent changes to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, it looks at UK compliance as a whole. Accordingly, the Commissioners expressed concern in their letter that:

None of the devolved countries have been given the opportunity to provide either written or oral evidence. This is contrary to the process in previous years whereby Commissioners from the devolved countries have provided information.
We understand from the list of issues produced by the Committee that these extend beyond reserved matters. Where the Committee considers reserved matters there is still an important role for the devolved nations to express the way in which these issues directly and distinctly affect children and young people in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Given the differences in health and education systems and the different legal processes in the devolved countries we are sure you will agree that it is vital to urge the Committee to take a rounded view of UNCRC implementation across all four countries of the UK.

The response from Committee Chair Dr Hywel Francis MP says:

The Committee is aware of the extra and special dimension that devolution has brought to the protection and promotion of children’s rights across the UK.

The Commissioner is currently considering how best to respond, and has been invited to give written evidence to the Committee.