Professional Zone

Report on the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child

We read with interest the midterm report on the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) published by the UK Children’s Commissioners’ to coincide with International Day of the Child.

The UK Government is required to report on progress and, twenty years on from the ratification of the UNCRC, the commissioners’ report focuses on five key areas: participation, children with disabilities, child poverty, children seeking asylum and juvenile justice.

Voice welcomes the commissioners’ call for new laws so that children and young people have the right to participate when dealing with systems in which adults are making decisions that affect them. Incorporating training on participation into the pre-qualification training programmes for all those working with children and young people would be a big step forward. At Voice we ensure that children’s voices are not forgotten by listening to them and feeding their views back to decision-makers.

The report also calls for there to be an urgent review of the arrangements for determining the age of unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Too often children arriving into this country are denied their rights as a child because of the uncertainty surrounding their age. We have numerous stories of young refugees that have looked to Voice’s advocacy service for support because their rights have been questioned by the local authority with the responsibility to care for them. We can only reinforce the importance of independent advocacy for this group of children.

What is your experience of this system? Have you or someone you know had to go through an age assessment?