Childrens Law Centre Annual Lecture 2019.
As a result of the current health crisis, and in accordance with government advice, all Children’s Law Centre staff are now working from home. We will continue to deliver services to the best of our ability and within ongoing restrictions.
What about Children’s Human Rights during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recently set out that “…restrictions must be imposed only when necessary, be proportionate and kept to an absolute minimum” and that “States should respect the right of every child to non-discrimination in its measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic as well as take targeted measures to protect children in vulnerable situations…States should ensure that responses to the pandemic, including restrictions and decisions on allocation of resources, reflect the principle of the best interests of the child.”
For answers to your legal FAQs on how COVID-19 impacts on children’s rights click here>>>
Brief note on children and the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 and temporary changes to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards during COVID-19 emergency, click here>>>
If you are concerned about how COVID-19 may impact on children’s enjoyment of their legal rights and you require further legal advice please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may contact individual Children’s Law Centre staff via email. Please initially contact Sarah McAuley on email@example.com
If you have already been in contact with a member of staff please contact the relevant member of staff directly.
Email addresses for Children’s Law Centre staff are below:
If you wish to contact our legal advice service you may continue to do so by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that CHALKY our Free Phone Advice Line has been suspended until further notice.
We will continue to monitor government advice and hope to be able to return to a full service as soon as it is safe to do so.
Please stay safe and well.
Children’s Law Centre Management Committee and Staff
This includes requiring each country, every five years or so, to make a report on their progress to an international committee of experts on children’s rights (this is called: ‘The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’). This Committee will then visit those countries to check if they are doing what they should be for children and let them know where they need to improve.
People should think about ways to make sure everyone knows about the Convention, regardless of their age. There should be training around how to do this, especially for those who work with children and young people.
Countries are free to give children and young people more rights than the Convention lists; they just can’t take away the rights that are given by it.
the government should always try to make sure that your rights:
It also means that the government should take steps so that you and the adults who work with children and young people all know about the UNCRC.
The age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland is 10, however the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child say that this is too low and have asked our government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years old.
The government must do all that they can to protect you and look for your family so they can reunite you. If your family cannot be found, the government must provide you with the same support and protection as any other child that has been separated from their family.
This includes being taken from where you live against your will and forced to live somewhere else.
It is your right to learn and practice your language, customs and religion. The government must do all that they can to support you and make sure you do not face unfair treatment or discrimination as a result of this.
Our government should make sure you can participate in fun activities you like e.g. places to meet and socialise with friends, sports, youth clubs and cinemas. You should also have opportunities to enjoy cultural life and customs for instance taking part in special events and activities.
The government should;
Your education should:
The government should help your parents/guardians to provide for you. This includes supporting you, or a parent/guardian on your behalf, to make a claim for social security benefits, offering support and training, clothing, food and housing.
This support and training should also include teaching you about the effects of drug use and the government should protect you from any harm you might suffer if your parents/guardians are using drugs.
You have the right to clean water and nutritious food so that you can stay healthy. You should also be taught about nutrition, hygiene and how to keep yourself safe.
The government should make sure you have access to education, training, health care services, rehabilitation service, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities necessary for your development, especially if you have a disability.
The government should do as much as they can to make sure you grow up happy, healthy and safe.
This includes providing you with child-care or other arrangements if your parents/guardians are working.
If you are living in conflict, it may be in your best interests to place you in a different country.
Your other rights must still be met, for example keeping in contact with your parents where it is safe to do so.
Some examples of being in the care of the government are when you are living in;
If it has been decided that the best option for you is alternative care (e.g. foster care, a children’s home or being adopted),
there should be independent checks to make sure that your rights are respected.
You have the right to keep in contact with your family if they are living in a different country, and to leave your country to live with your family, where possible.
Applications to reunite a family involving children can be made by children who are outside the UK,
to join their parent(s) with leave to remain in the UK, subject to meeting requirements set out in the Immigration Rules.
Being kidnapped also includes being taken from where you live against your will and forced to live somewhere else, e.g. being sent to a different country against your will.
The government must understand that your parents and family are important people in your life.
The government must also see that, generally, as you get older and more mature you should have even more say in these types of decisions.
If your parent is in prison you have a right to visit them if you want to, so long as this is in your best interests.
If you are in care, your parents may still be involved in decisions affecting your life. They should be helped to do this in a way that respects your rights and is in your best interests.
This includes help for survivors of:
This also applies to young people who are suspected of having breached immigration laws, such as asylum seekers and refugees.
You should be protected from anyone doing anything to your body that you do not want them to do, this includes physical punishment in school or for someone to touch you, to take inappropriate pictures of you, or to use images of you in a negative or inappropriate way.
Some types of harm include physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation. There are also traditional practices in some cultures which can cause harm to children, such as forced marriage, food restrictions, scarring/branding and other body modifications.
The government must help to make sure that people are never violent or harmful towards you and they should take steps to prevent you from harming yourself in any way.
You are free to join a peaceful protest about issues you feel strongly about e.g. climate change and your privacy should be respected when doing this, but you don’t have a right to meet others for unlawful purposes e.g. to cause harm to other people.
Some young people living in places like residential homes, juvenile justice centres or hospitals, may find it difficult to have their own space. Regardless of where you are living, you have a right to privacy.
Everyone should have access to the media and the internet, including young people whose freedoms are limited e.g. those in the Juvenile Justice Centre. Young people with a disability or where English is not their first language should get the help they need to access the media. You should be protected from harmful media for example material that shows graphic violence.
You can express yourself in different ways such as talking out loud or posting things on the internet. Your parents/guardians can guide you in this but as you get older and more mature, your ability to hold beliefs that are different from others must be respected.
For example, if your religion/beliefs are different from other students at your school, your teachers should make sure you have the chance to practice your religion and customs during school hours, if you want to. You should be able to follow your own beliefs as long as these beliefs respect and don’t cause harm to others e.g. you don’t have the right to reveal private information or say harmful things about a person that are not true.
Your identity is made up of many different parts, including:
The government should not interfere with your right to any of these and they should be able to help if any of these things are taken away from you.
Children in care – This means that your name should not be changed, unless you want it to be.
Stateless children – being stateless can affect whether you can go to school or to the hospital. The government should not have any laws that discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or gender to cause statelessness.
If you are in care you have a right to have a say in where you are going to live. If you are in a hospital you have a right to have a say when there are different treatment options available to you. As you get older and more mature you should have even more say in these types of decisions.
This means all adults, like your parents/guardians, teachers, social workers, doctors and the police. When adults make decisions that will affect your life they must always think about what’s best for you and make sure you have a say in these decisions, where possible.
Discrimination can be direct or indirect. For example;
Direct: If someone did not get a job because they had a disability or a different skin colour.
Indirect: If everyone had to climb up a flight of stairs to get to an after-school club, this would discriminate against children who couldn’t do that because of a physical disability.
Due to the current Covid 19 Public Health Emergency all CLC’s face to face Training Calendar Events are postponed until further notice. We are hoping to offer online training seminars in the near future. Dates for online events and booking details will be posted to this page in due course…
For queries on training contact email@example.com Tel: 028 9024 5704
The provision of training and information events are integral to the work of the Children’s Law Centre. All training delivered by CLC is directly informed by legal, policy and legislative developments relevant to children and young people and is underpinned by the key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UK Government in 1991:
CLC training aims to support all stakeholders in making children’s rights a reality in this jurisdiction by:
Links to online booking feature for future use?
The work of the Children’s Law Centre is guided and informed by the views of children and young people, particularly youth@CLC, our youth advisory panel.
Youth@CLC work closely with our Youth Participation and Advocacy Worker and other youth forums/young people in schools to raise awareness of children’s rights issues in Northern Ireland and advocate for positive change in children’s lives using children’s rights.
Youth@CLC inform our work and government policy affecting children through:
CLC’s policy work ensures that where proposed governmental policies or legislation will impact on children and young people, government is reminded of its obligations to deliver on children’s rights as it is set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Some of the policy work we do includes:
Our legal services are child focussed and the child is always our client.
Chalky – Free phone Advice Line 0808 808 5678…(phone and email icon and address)
Our CHALKY legal advice and information service was launched in May 2000. We provide a free child friendly legal advice and information service, which deals with over 2000 issues annually. Our service provides free advice by phone or email to children and young people, their parents/carers and professionals with legal queries relating to difficulties in school, access to services for disabled children, special educational needs, mental health service provision, homelessness, family law issues and other general legal queries.
We can provide advice on children’s rights relating to the following areas:
Do you know you Rights series link here
Free Legal Representation for Children and Young People
We also provide free legal representation, particularly at SENDIST and Mental Health Review Tribunals and undertake strategic litigation following the criteria contained within our Casework Policy.(link to)
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New Digital Information and Advice Service for Children and Young People only (under 18)– Live Now!
Ree Rights Responder and Live Chat
Young people (aged 13 – 17) who would prefer to access information on their rights online can access our Children’s Rights chatbot REE- Rights Responder, which also offers a connection to an online legal advisor through REE live Chat for those young people who may need additional information and advice on their rights. See Ask an Expert in Youth Section for more information on REE.