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Parliament debate an opportunity to put UNCRC Bill back on the agenda while #TeamScotlandUN defend children’s rights in Geneva

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“All rights are important, all rights should be law.” – Member of the Children’s Parliament

Next month will mark two years since the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted to pass the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill. The main purpose of the Bill is to bring the UNCRC into Scots law.

The Bill is a milestone on Scotland’s journey towards making rights real for every child, and we remain confident that milestone will be achieved. However, the Supreme Court ruling that the Bill was not within the competence of the Scottish Parliament (meaning that parts of the Bill went beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament) and the subsequent delays in action have left children and young people still waiting for their rights to be protected in law.

Debate in the Scottish Parliament

Today, Martin Whitfield MSP’s Motion will see the Scottish Parliament debate the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill. Children, young people, and adult human rights defenders have been clear that the UNCRC should be incorporated into Scots Law to the maximum extent possible as soon as possible.

Member of the Children’s Parliament, Arden said:

“Children’s rights are important as children are treated so unfairly… the delay {in incorporating children rights in law} is an example of children not being taken seriously”

Worried about the delay another Member of Children’s Parliament said:

“If it’s too long or gets extended, then it may never get done.”

“As we count down each day, children are still waiting for what’s been promised to them. Every day of delay is a day when children don’t have their rights protected”

– Bruce Adamson, CYP Commissioner

On the urgency for action, Scottish Youth Parliament’s former Chair, told the Scottish Cabinet nearly a year ago at the 2022 Scottish Cabinet Takeover event:

“The delay from the Supreme Court Challenge and the subsequent wait for action has come at a time when the need for rights to be protected in law has been heightened by the pandemic, issues with assessments, and the accelerating climate emergency.

“Therefore, today I’m calling for you to commit to publishing a timeline, imminently, on when this Bill will be re-introduced and made into law. After almost a year since the first version of the Bill passed, it feels only right”.

That call for urgency has not been met.

For real time updates on the debate, follow @Together_SACR on Twitter.

#TeamScotlandUN in Geneva

This week will also see children, young people, and adult human rights defenders from Scotland who make up #TeamScotlandUN joining partners across the UK to give evidence to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

Beau Johnston MSYP and Daisy Stewart Henderson MSYP will join Members of Children’s Parliament Arden and Omima, 13 and 14, in raising children and young people’s rights issues with the UN Committee. Incorporation of the UNCRC and the urgency for action from both the Scottish Government and UK Government will be one of the most important issues raised by Team Scotland to the Committee.

“I’m so privileged to be representing the voices of Scotland’s children and young people at the UN, but it is our right to be at the heart of discussions about own experiences.

“Human rights should always transcend political divisions. I hope decision-makers will come together to enshrine our rights in law immediately.”

Daisy Stewart Henderson MSYP

Speaking about the delay in having rights protected in law, Beau said:

In the time it is taking to protect young people’s rights in law, many young people, who have campaigned for this issue their entire childhood such as myself and Daisy, have missed the opportunity to experience the benefits of their campaigning as they are no longer children.

“In taking this long to protect our rights in law, the Scottish government have denied many young people their rights. In Geneva, team Scotland will be raising this issue with the UN Committee.”

“It’s harder to ignore what children are saying when we are face to face with the UN, I hope the issues we speak about will be addressed back in Scotland”

Omima, Member of the Children’s Parliament

Before giving evidence, Director of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) Juliet Harris said:

“In Geneva we’ll be telling the UN that Scottish Government and UK Government need to work together to protect children and young people’s rights in Scotland.

“We know that the UN Committee will want to hold them to account to ensure children and young people’s rights are put into law with no further delay.”

In support of their evidence, #TeamScotlandUN will present two reports to the Committee summarising children and young people’s rights issues in Scotland that need addressed and recommending what actions can be taken to ensure rights are protected respected and fulfilled. You can read both the The State of Children’s Rights Report 2023 and The Children and Young People’s Report to the UN Committee on the Together website.

#TeamScotlandUN will be sharing updates throughout the week – follow along here.

This blog was cross-posted by our friends and partners at Together – Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Children’s Parliament and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.

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