Scotland spells out responsibilities of children’s rights commissioner

The Scottish executive has set out the remit for the country’s
first independent commissioner to champion the rights of children
and young people.

The role will include promoting and safeguarding children’s rights,
with the power to make recommendations for action, while
communicating with children over their views.

The commissioner will be able to initiate general investigations
but will not have the power to investigate the case of an
individual child or young person. He or she will promote good
practice, issue guidance and consider the impact of all
legislation, policy and initiatives on children – and their
families – through the publication of a child impact statement. The
commissioner will also be required to publish an annual

The education, culture and sport committee of the Scottish
parliament has actively pursued the idea of a children’s
commissioner since 1999. After the Scottish executive responded
positively to its initial report, the committee published a further
report in July this year proposing the nature of the commissioner’s

The commissioner’s remit will extend to children and young people
up to the age of 18. However, the executive has agreed to the
committee’s suggestion that the commissioner’s responsibilities
should include those young people under 21 to whom the local
authority still owes a duty of care under the Children (Scotland)
Act 1995.

Cathy Jamieson, the minister for education and young people, said:
“I see the commissioner as a champion for all children and young
people. But those most at risk of exclusion and deprivation must be
the priority.

“Pathways to poverty and exclusion are often set early in life, and
it becomes difficult to break this cycle. Children from
disadvantaged backgrounds can suffer lasting problems – poor
educational performance, a wide range of health problems, greater
contact with the police.”

She added that the post could act in a number of different areas,
including “making children and young people aware of their rights
and raising public awareness, engaging directly with young people,
carrying out general investigations, and providing recommendations
for change”.

Wales appointed a children’s commissioner in 2001 while in England
some areas, including Oxford and London, have appointed regional
children’s commissioners.

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