Calls for children's rights to be put into Scots law

The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child has yet to be implemented into Scots law despite the Scottish Government's promises.

The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child are still yet to be implemented in Scots law
The UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child are still yet to be implemented in Scots law

The convention that was created 30 years ago has not been incorporated into Scottish domestic legislation.

Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner, has criticised the Scottish Government for not delivering on its pledge to include the UNCRC in the Scottish legal system.

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According to Mr Adamson, pressure has been put onto the government for years to incorporate the UNCRC into legislation.

He said: “I don’t understand why it hasn’t been done – it is a commitment we have made. The international experience is that delay tends to be because those in power are seeking to avoid accountability. To make children’s rights enforceable they need to be put into domestic law.”

Mr Adamson said a previous consultation involving nine-year-olds in 2011 had led the children to call for their rights to be included in the Scottish legal system.

While the Scottish Government has issued laws supporting children’s rights, certain areas in the legal system remain controversial. One example is Scotland’s age of criminal responsibility which stands at eight years old, while in England and Wales the minimum age is ten.

Although steps have been taken to prevent parents from smacking their children to discipline them, Mr Adamson argued the Scottish Government has not tackled this issue effectively.

He said: “Green Party MSP John Finnie has taken leadership on this and brought forward a bill to change the law, but the Scottish Government was slow to support it, and only did so after the Greens, Liberal Democrats and Labour all came out in support.

“They do now support it, but it is John Finnie who is leading it, and it is only at Stage 1.”

Since its creation in 1989, 194 countries have included the UNCRC into their domestic legislation.

Scotland stands alongside the US as the only countries who have not ratified the convention.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish ministers announced through the Programme for Government 2018-19 their commitment to incorporating the principles of the UNCRC into domestic law.

“It is important to develop a model that will deliver the best outcomes for children, young people and families in Scotland.”