The government is still failing to develop a culture that puts
the human rights of children at its core, according to the latest
report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
The committee says that, in the government’s response to
the committee’s 10th report on the UN Convention on the
Rights of the Child, it failed to accept several recommendations
made by MPs and peers to improve the UK’s record on
protecting children’s rights.
The committee concludes that there is still insufficient
compliance with the convention by the government. In particular, it
highlights the government’s failure to meet its promise to
develop an overarching strategy for children and young people
referring specifically to the rights, principles and provisions of
However, the latest report praises recent measures to establish
a children’s commissioner for England, to appoint a new
minister for children and families and the continued commitment to
reducing child poverty.
But the government has failed to budge on several
recommendations made by the committee on how children are treated
in the youth justice system.
MPs and peers called for an increase in the age of criminal
responsibility from 10 to 12 and for the withdrawal of custody as
an option for that group.
However, the government said it would continue to operate the
youth justice system along its present lines, “with a clear and
visible response to offending from age 10 upwards”.
The committee warns that new intensive supervision or detention
orders, which will combine custody with community supervision, will
be used for children as young as 12 who are infrequent offenders
and who would not normally have received a custodial sentence. It
adds that it is “dismayed” by the government’s belief that
holding 2,000 children in custody is a necessity.
Failure to recognise the need for a statutory right to special
educational need support, to impose Children Act 1989
responsibilities on the prison service, and to scrap the
“reasonable chastisement” defence to harming children is also
– The 18th Report of the Joint Committee of Human
Rights from www.parliament.uk