Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here: http://www.crin.org/resources/treaties/index.asp
Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.
- UN Human Rights Committee
- UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- UN Committee against Torture
- UN Committee on Migrant Workers
- UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance
Anti-social behaviour orders: The Committee is concerned that despite anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) being civil orders, their breach constitutes a criminal offence which is punishable by up to five years in prison. The Committee is especially concerned with the fact that ASBOs can be imposed on children as young as 10 in England and Wales and 8 in Scotland, and with the fact that some of these children can subsequently be detained for up to two years for breaching them. The Committee is also concerned with the manner in which the names and photographs of persons subject to ASBOs (including children) are frequently widely disseminated in the public domain. (arts. 14, paragraph 4 and 24)
The State party should review its legislation on anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), including the definition of anti-social behaviour, in order to ensure that it complies with the provisions of the Covenant. In particular, the State party should ensure that young children are not detained as a result of breaching the conditions of their ASBOs and that the privacy rights of children and adults subject to ASBOs are respected. (Paragraph 20)
Immigration detention: The Committee remains concerned that the State party has continued its practice of detaining large numbers of asylum-seekers, including children. Furthermore, the Committee reiterates that it considers unacceptable any detention of asylum-seekers in prisons and is concerned that while most asylum-seekers are detained in immigration centres, a small minority of them continue to be held in prisons, allegedly for reasons of security and control. It is concerned that some asylum-seekers do not have early access to legal representation and are thus likely to be unaware of their right to make a bail application which is no longer automatic since the enactment of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. The Committee is also concerned by the failure to keep statistics on persons subject to deportation who are removed from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, as well as their temporary detention in police cells. (arts. 9, 10, 12 and 24)
The State party should review its detention policy with regard to asylumseekers, especially children. It should take immediate and effective measures to ensure that all asylum-seekers who are detained pending deportation are held in centres specifically designed for that purpose, should consider alternatives to detention, and should end the detention of asylum-seekers in prisons. It should also ensure that asylum-seekers have full access to early and free legal representation so that their rights under the Covenant receive full protection. It should provide appropriate detention facilities in Northern Ireland for persons facing deportation. (Paragraph 21)
Corporal punishment: The Committee notes with concern that corporal punishment of children is not prohibited in schools in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Crown Dependencies. (arts. 7 and 24)
The State party should expressly prohibit corporal punishment of children in all schools in all British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. (Paragraph 27)
Concluding observations: 24 June 2016
Social security: The Committee is deeply concerned about the various changes in the entitlements to, and cuts in, social benefits, introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act of 2016, such as the reduction of the household benefit cap, the removal of the spare-room subsidy (bedroom tax), the four year freeze on certain benefits and the reduction in child tax credits. The Committee is particularly concerned about the adverse impact of these changes and cuts on the enjoyment of the rights to social security and to an adequate standard of living by disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, including women, children, persons with disabilities, low-income families and families with two or more children. The Committee calls upon the State party to review the entitlement conditions and reverse the cuts in social security benefits introduced by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 (paras 40, 41).
Childcare: Despite the recent plan to increase in the provision of childcare services in England and Scotland, the Committee is concerned about the limited availability and high costs of childcare in the State party. The Committee is also concerned that the present modality of shared parental leave does not necessarily bring an increased participation of men in childcare responsibilities (para 43).
The Committee recommends that the State party increase its efforts to ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of childcare services throughout the State party particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Committee also recommends that the State party review the system of shared parental leave and modify it with a view to improve the equal sharing of responsibilities within the family and in the society (para 44).
Violence against women with disabilities: While noting the adoption of a national strategy on gender-based violence in March 2016, the Committee regrets the lack of information specifying how it effectively addresses violence against women and girls with disabilities. The Committee requests the State party to include in its next periodic report, information on the impact of the implementation of the national strategy on gender-based violence particularly with regard to violence against women and girls with disabilities (paras 45, 46).
Poverty: The Committee notes with concern that certain groups of the population are more affected by, or at an increased risk of, poverty, in particular persons with disabilities, persons belonging to ethnic, religious or other minorities, single-parent families and families with children. The Committee notes with concern that the State party does not have a specific definition of poverty and that the new Life Chances Strategy, as contained in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, has repealed the duty to meet time bound targets on child poverty, which remains high and is projected to increase in the future, especially in Northern Ireland (para 47).
The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to introduce measures to guarantee targeted support to all those living in poverty or at risk of poverty, in particular persons with disabilities, persons belonging to an ethnic, religious or other minorities, single-parent families and families with children and adopt an anti-poverty strategy in Northern Ireland. The Committee also urges the State party to develop a comprehensive child poverty strategy and reinstate the targets and reporting duties on child poverty. In that regard, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to its statement on poverty and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted on 4 May 2001 (para 48).
Homelessness: The Committee is concerned about the significant rise in homelessness in the State party, particularly in England and Northern Ireland, affecting mostly single persons, families with children, victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities and asylum-seekers. The Committee also notes with concern the adverse impact that reforms in social security and reductions in financial support to local authorities have had on the right to adequate housing, especially with regard to the criminalization of “rough sleeping” in the State Party (para 51).
The Committee urges the State party to take immediate measures, including by allocating appropriate funds to local authorities, to reduce the exceptionally high levels of homelessness, particularly in England and Northern Ireland, and to ensure adequate provision of reception facilities, including emergency shelters, hostels and reception, as well as social rehabilitation centres. The Committee urges the State party to adopt all necessary measures to avoid the criminalization of “rough sleeping” in the State Party and to develop appropriate policies and programmes to facilitate the social reintegration of homeless persons. In this respect, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to its General Comment No. 4 (1991) on the right to adequate housing (para 52)
Right to Food: The Committee is concerned about the lack of adequate measures adopted to increase the rates of breastfeeding. The Committee recommends that the State party develop a comprehensive national strategy for the protection and promotion of the right to adequate food, in order to address food insecurity in all jurisdictions of the State party and to promote healthier diets. This should include policies in support of breastfeeding in accordance with the resolutions of the World Health Assembly, including through breastfeeding breaks or breastfeeding facilities in educational institutions and workplaces (paras 53, 54).
Education: While noting the efforts made by the State party to reduce inequalities in education, the Committee is still concerned about the persistence of significant inequalities in educational attainment, especially for children belonging to ethnic, religious or other minorities and children from low-income families which has the effect of limiting social mobility in the State party (para 63).
The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to reduce the attainment gaps particularly among children belonging to low-income families, including by reconsidering the austerity programs adopted and effectively implementing measures aimed at reducing de facto discrimination and segregation of students based on their religion, national or social origin, as well as their economic background (para 64).
Legislative changes: The Committee encourages the State party to consider ratifying the core human rights instruments to which it is not yet a party, namely the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (para 70).
Last reported: 12 and 13 May 2009
Concluding Observations published: 12 June 2009
Maternity and paternity leave: The Committee notes with concern that parental and paternity leave are not available to the same extent as maternity leave which negatively impacts on equal rights between men and women. (arts. 3 and 9)
The Committee recommends that the State party introduce a more flexible scheme for paternity and parental leave, taking into consideration the report “Working Better” by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. (Paragraph 19)
Domestic violence and corporal punishment: The Committee notes with concern that, despite the steps taken by the State party, domestic violence, and in particular violence against women, is still a widespread problem. It also notes with concern that the number of rape cases which are brought to courts is low. It also remains concerned that corporal punishment of children in the home is not yet prohibited by law.
The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce its measures to combat violence against women. It further recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to raise awareness of the gravity of this offence and the mechanisms available to victims of domestic violence, to improve training for police and law enforcement officials and judges in relation to rape cases, and to increase the support services for victims at the local level. The Committee further recommends that the State party take appropriate measures to ensure that complaints of rape are diligently and impartially investigated and prosecuted without any inherent bias or scepticism towards alleged victims. The Committee reiterates its recommendation that physical punishment of children in the home be prohibited by law. (Paragraph 24)
Abortion: The Committee is concerned that the 1967 Abortion Act is not applicable in Northern Ireland.
The Committee calls upon the State party to amend the abortion law of Northern Ireland to bring it in line with the 1967 Abortion Act with a view to preventing clandestine and unsafe abortions in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality. (Paragraph 25)
Restriction on family reunification: The Committee is concerned that the increase of age from 18 to 21 for foreign partners to join their British partners has a discriminatory effect on some groups, in particular ethnic minorities and women. (arts. 10 and 2)
The Committee recommends that the State party allow foreign partners from the age of 18 to join their British partners and consider easing restrictions on family reunification in its Immigration Rules in order to comply with the principle of non-discrimination and ensure the widest possible protection of, and assistance to, the family. (Paragraph 26)
Child poverty: The Committee welcomes the measures adopted by the State party which contribute to the implementation of the Covenant rights, which inter alia have led to a decreased number of children living in poverty, improved conditions of work, and enhanced overall levels of health. It notes with appreciation the various legislative and policy reforms undertaken, including the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003, the Childcare Act 2006, and the National Health Service Constitution (final text published on 21 January 2009). (Paragraph 7)
The Committee continues to be concerned that poverty and fuel poverty, especially among children, remain widespread in the State party, despite the level of its economic development and the positive steps it has taken. The Committee is also concerned that poverty levels vary considerably between and within regions and cities as well as between different groups of society, with higher poverty levels among ethnic minorities, asylum-seekers and migrants, older persons, single mothers, and persons with disabilities. (art. 11)
The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to combat poverty, fuel poverty, and social exclusion, in particular with regard to the most disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and groups and in the most affected regions and city areas. It also calls upon the State party to develop human rights-based poverty-reduction programmes, taking into consideration the Committee’s Statement on Poverty and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 2001 (E/C.12/2001/10). The Committee also encourages the State party to intensify its efforts aimed at achieving its target of reducing child poverty by half by 2010. (Paragraph 28)
The Committee is concerned about the persistent levels of deprivation and inequality throughout Northern Ireland, despite the adoption of the Northern Ireland Equality Impact Assessment. (art. 11)
The Committee recommends that the human rights framework, including the Equality Impact Assessment, be effectively implemented in Northern Ireland, particularly in the context of urban regeneration programmes by ensuring the participation of the affected populations and the development of adequate policies and targeted measures to promote substantive equality, provide for improved health care, as well as an increase in skills training and employment opportunities for young people and adequate housing programmes for the poor and, in particular, Catholic families. (Paragraph 31)
Education: The Committee is concerned that significant disparities in terms of school performance and dropout rates continue to exist between pupils belonging to ethnic, religious or national minorities, in particular Roma/Gypsies, Irish Travellers, and other students, in spite of the efforts undertaken by the State party to address the social and economic inequalities existing in the field of education (arts. 13 and 2, para. 2)
The Committee recommends that the State party adopt all appropriate measures to reduce the achievement gap in terms of school performance between British pupils and pupils belonging to ethnic, religious or national minorities in the field of education, inter alia, by ensuring the adequate provision of English-language courses for those students who lack adequate language proficiency and avoiding the overrepresentation of minority students in classes for children with learning difficulties. The Committee further recommends that the State party undertake further studies on the correlation between school failure and social environment, with a view to elaborating effective strategies aimed at reducing the disproportionate dropout rates affecting minority pupils. (Paragraph 36)
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Concluding observations adopted: 26 August 2016
Counter-terrorism measures: The Committee expresses concern that the new counter-terrorism measures adopted by the State party, including the Counter-Extremism Strategy and the creation under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 of a statutory duty for public authorities in a broad range of fields to have due regard to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism (the “Prevent duty”) have created an atmosphere of suspicion towards members of Muslim communities. In particular, the Committee is concerned at: the collection, retention and sharing of information on individuals, particularly children, without their consent or the consent of their parents/guardians (para 18).
The Committee urges the State party to review the implementation and evaluate the impact of existing counter-terrorism measures, and in particular the “Prevent duty” under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, to ensure that there are effective monitoring mechanisms and sufficient safeguards against abuse, and that they are implemented in a manner that does not constitute profiling and discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, in purpose or effect (para 19).
Immigration detention: The Committee expresses concern at the use of immigration detention with no statutory time limit, and that children continue to be held in immigration detention facilities. Recalling its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party establish a statutory time limit on the duration of immigration detention and ensure that detention is used as a measure of last resort, and take further steps to end the immigration detention of Children (para 38, 39).
Ratification of other instruments: Bearing in mind the indivisibility of all human rights, the Committee encourages the State party to consider ratifying those international human rights instruments that it has not
yet ratified, in particular treaties with provisions that have direct relevance to communities that may be subjected to racial discrimination, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (para 46).
Last reported: 23 and 24 August 2011
Concluding Observations published: 14 September 2011
Racist bullying: While welcoming the adoption of the national approach to racist bullying that was published in November 2010 and the introduction of respectme, a Scottish anti-bullying service that is partly funded by the Government, the Committee expresses concern at the increased reports of racist bullying and name-calling in the State party’s schools (arts. 2 and 5(e)(v)).
The Committee encourages the State party to take all necessary steps to eliminate all racist bullying and name-calling in the State party’s schools. The Committee urges the State party to introduce awareness-raising campaigns in the State party’s schools with a view to changing the mindset of pupils, and to promote tolerance and respect for diversity in the education sector. (Paragraph 23)
Exclusion of minority children from schools: In the education sector, the Committee notes that the rate of school exclusion of Black pupils is decreasing, but is still disproportionately high. The Committee also notes the relative lack of success in addressing under-achievement in schools, particularly for those groups which have been identified as most affected, notably Gypsy and Traveller children and Afro-Caribbeans (articles 2 and 5(e)(v)).
The Committee recommends that the State party adopt an intensified approach towards preventing exclusion of Black pupils and set out in detail its plans for addressing under-achievement for those groups which have been identified as most affected, notably Gypsy and Traveller children and Afro-Caribbeans. (Paragraph 24)
Employment “gap” affecting young people from minority backgrounds: The Committee notes that the employment gap for ethnic minorities of all age groups has decreased from 17.4% to 10.9% but that the gap is greatest for 16- to 24-yearolds. TheCommittee acknowledges this improvement in employment rates for ethnic minorities (art. 5(e)(i)).
The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to narrow the employment gap for ethnic minorities. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party prepare a detailed delivery plan of how it will further narrow the ethnic minority employment gap in all areas and at all levels of employment. (Paragraph 25)
Family reunification: The Committee is concerned at the increase in the marriage visa age for purposes of family reunification from 18 to 21 years in November 2008, arguably in order to protect young people from entering into forced marriages. The Committee is concerned that this may lead to a situation where persons belonging to ethnic and minority backgrounds are discriminated against in the enjoyment of their right to family life, marriage and choice of spouse (arts. 2 and 5(d)(iv)).
The Committee recommends that the State party remove this increase in the marriage visa age for purposes of family reunification as it violates the rights of persons who satisfy the legal minimum age of marriage as it principally affects ethnic minorities and other persons. (Paragraph 26)
Gypsy and traveller children: While noting that some efforts have been made by the State party to improve the well-being of Gypsies and Traveller communities, the Committee remains concerned that such efforts have not substantially improved their situation. The Committee thus regrets that these communities continue to register poor outcomes in the fields of health, education, housing and employment. The Committee further regrets reports of increased negative stereotypes and stigmatisation of these communities within the wider society (arts. 2 and 5(d)(i), (e)(i)(iii)(iv) and (v)).
Recalling its general recommendation No. 27 (2000) on discrimination against Roma, the Committee recommends that the State party should strengthen its efforts to improve the situation of Gypsies and Travellers. The State party should ensure that concrete measures are taken to improve the livelihoods of these communities by focusing on improving their access to education, health care and services, and employment and providing adequate accommodation, including transient sites, in the State party. The Committee further recommends that the State party ensure that representatives of these communities are adequately consulted before any measures that impact on their situation, such as those proposed under the Localism agenda, are implemented. (Paragraph 27)
The Committee deeply regrets the State party’s insistence on proceeding immediately with the eviction of the Gypsy and Traveller community at Dale Farm in Essex before identifying and providing alternative culturally appropriate housing for members of these communities. The Committee further regrets the State party’s failure to assist the communities in finding suitable alternative accommodation (art. 5(e)(iii)).
The Committee urges the State party to halt the intended eviction, which will disproportionately affect the lives of families and particularly women and children and create hardship. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party should provide alternative culturally appropriate accommodation to these communities before any evictions are carried out. The State party should ensure that any evictions are conducted in accordance with the law and in a manner that respects the human dignity of all individuals in this community, in conformity with international and regional human rights norms. (Paragraph 28)
UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Last reported: 17 July 2013
Concluding Observations issued: 26 July 2013
Juvenile justice: The Committee is concerned that, following the findings of the Carloway Review of criminal law and practice in Scotland, the burdensome requirements of corroboration impede the prosecution of rape and other sexual violence cases. The Committee is also concerned that the three-year limitation period for sexual abuse cases for civil law suits in Scotland, including where a child is a victim, unduly limits access to justice for victims. (Paragraph 26)
The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Consider implementing the recommendations of the Carloway Review regarding the removal of the corroboration requirement in criminal cases related to sexual offences; and,
(b) Expand the limitation period for civil claims regarding abuse, particularly of girls, so that they can still initiate proceedings when they are adults. (Paragraph 27)
Violence: The Committee commends the State party for launching the “Call to End Violence against Women and Girls” in 2010. It notes that the State party intends to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), and to criminalise forced marriage. However, it is concerned at continued reports of violence against women, including domestic violence, particularly affecting black and minority ethnic women, and the so-called honour killings against ethnic minority women. The Committee is also concerned at reports of negative police attitudes towards women who are victims of domestic violence. The Committee further recalls its previous concluding observations (A/63/38, paras. 280 and 281) and is concerned that corporal punishment remains lawful in the home. (Paragraph 34)
Recalling its general recommendation No. 19 (1992) on violence against women, and its previous recommendation, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Ratify the Istanbul Convention, and criminalise forced marriage;
(b) Increase its efforts in the protection of women, including black and minority women, against all forms of violence, including domestic violence, and the so-called honour killings; and
(c) Continue public awareness-raising campaigns on all forms of violence against women, including black and ethnic minority women.
(d) Intensify efforts to train police officers to eliminate prejudices concerning the credibility of victims of domestic violence; and
(e) Revise its legislation to prohibit corporal punishment of children in the home. (Paragraph 35)
Female genital mutilation: While noting the launch of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative aimed at fighting impunity for sexual violence crimes, the Committee is concerned at reports that female genital mutilation (FGM) persists in some communities in the State party. The Committee further recalls its previous concluding observations (A/63/38, paras. 278 and 279) and remains concerned that there still have not been any convictions on FGM. (Paragraph 36)
The Committee reiterates that the State party should ensure the full implementation of its legislation on FGM. The Committee recommends that the State party should ensure that the Crown Prosecution Service is provided with the necessary support to effectively prosecute perpetrators of FGM, including supporting the action plan on improving FGM prosecutions released by the Director of Public Prosecutions in November 2012. (Paragraph 37)
Trafficking: The Committee is concerned at the lack of a comprehensive national framework on trafficking, considering the nature and complexity of this phenomenon and its prevalence, notwithstanding the clear recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Inquiry into Human Trafficking in Scotland and the Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The Committee is also concerned at alleged weaknesses of the National Referral Mechanism in identifying victims of trafficking and the lack of adequate support provided to them. (Paragraph 38)
The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Adopt a comprehensive national framework to combat trafficking in women and girls; and
(b) Identify any weaknesses in the National Referral Mechanism and ensure that victims of trafficking are properly identified and adequately supported and protected. (Paragraph 39)
Prostitution: While noting that in Northern Ireland it is an offence to pay for the sexual services of a child under 18 years, the Committee is concerned that in the case of a child over the age of 13 and under the age of 18, the prosecution is required to prove that the purchaser did not reasonably believe the child to be 18 years old or more. (Paragraph 40)
The Committee urges the State party to revise its legislation by shifting the burden of proof from the prosecution to the purchaser of sexual services. The Committee recommends that once the prosecution proves that the child was over 13 and under 18, and the accused purchased sexual services from the child, the purchaser should be required to establish that the purchaser did not reasonably believe that the child was under 18 years. (Paragraph 41)
Education: While noting the adoption of the Education Act in 2011, the Committee is concerned that it is not compulsory to provide personal, social and health education (PSHE), and education on sexual relationships in all schools. The Committee is also concerned at reports of bullying, expressions of racist sentiments and harassment of girls in schools. The Committee is further concerned at the persistence of traditional attitudes and stereotypes, including the choice of studies, which affect educational paths and careers followed by girls and women. The Committee is particularly concerned at reports of under-representation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and in apprenticeships especially in Scotland, which ultimately affects the gender pay gap in the labour market. The Committee is also concerned at the lack of data on the number of women heading academic institutions and at the low number of women in professorial positions. (Paragraph 44)
The Committee recommends that the State party should:
(a) Consider introducing mandatory age appropriate education on sexual and reproductive rights in school curricula, including issues on gender relations and responsible sexual behaviour , particularly targeting adolescent girls; and
(b) Enhance measures to prevent, punish and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, including bullying and expressions of racist sentiments, in educational institutions;
(c) Intensify career guidance activities to encourage girls to pursue non-traditional paths and improve the gender awareness of teaching personnel at all levels of the education system;
(d) Take coordinated measures to encourage girls’ increased participation in STEM and apprenticeships; and
(e) Take appropriate measures to collect data on women in positions at all levels of academic institutions and improve the representation of women at the higher echelons. (Paragraph 45)
Childcare: The Committee recalls its previous concluding observations (A/63/38, paras. 286 and 287), and is concerned at the excessive costs of childcare. It is also concerned at reports that the proposed reforms to the welfare system would exacerbate the cost of childcare for low income facilities due to reductions in Childcare Tax Credit. (Paragraph 48)
Recalling its previous recommendation, the Committee urges the State party to provide affordable childcare and to mitigate the impact of the proposed reforms of the welfare system on the costs of childcare for low income families and the increased burden for care on women. (Paragraph 49)
Concluding Observations published: 10 July 2008
Detention of children with adults: As previously expressed in its concluding observations of 1999, the Committee notes with concern the holding of young female offenders in adult prisons in Northern Ireland, the inadequate educational, rehabilitative and resettlement programmes for women prisoners, and the location of prisons far from the families of women prisoners. The Committee also notes with concern the lack of adequate health facilities and services for women, including for mental health needs.
The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to reduce the number of women in conflict with the law, including through targeted prevention programmes aimed at addressing the causes of women’s criminality. Recalling its previous recommendation, the Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to develop alternative sentencing and custodial strategies, including community interventions and services, for women convicted of minor offences. It also urges the State party to address the situation of women in prison through the development of comprehensive gender-sensitive policies, strategies and programmes. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure that young female offenders are not held in adult prisons, to take further measures to increase and enhance educational, rehabilitative and resettlement programmes for women in prison and to ensure the provision of adequate health facilities and services, including mental health services, for women in prison. It also calls upon the State party to take further steps towards the establishment of small custodial units and community establishments, as well as separate women’s facilities, in particular in Northern Ireland. (Paragraphs 266 and 267)
Forced marriage and family reunification: The Committee notes the various measures taken by the Government to prohibit forced marriage, including the enactment of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act (2007), the establishment of a Forced Marriage Unit and the issuance of guidelines on forced marriage for police, education, social service and health service personnel. It expresses concern, however, at the continuing practice of forced marriages, in particular in ethnic, minority and immigrant communities, the lack of targeted prevention strategies and programmes for women and girls at risk, and the lack of support services for victims. It also notes with concern that the minimum age at which an overseas spouse or fiancé can enter the State party’s territory for family reunification was raised from 16 to 18 years, and that there are proposals to further increase the minimum age to 21 years.
The Committee urges the State party to ensure the full implementation of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act (2007) and to utilise existing criminal measures to address this phenomenon. It urges the full implementation and wider dissemination of the guidelines on forced marriage. It recommends the expansion of public awareness-raising campaigns targeted in particular at communities most at risk. The Committee also recommends the establishment of additional counselling and other support services for victims, including shelters, and requests the State party to enhance its cooperation with and support for non-governmental organisations working in this area. The Committee invites the State party to assess the impact of the minimum age limit for overseas spouses or fiancés on the prevention of forced marriage and to review its policy in this regard. (Paragraphs 276 and 277)
Female genital mutilation: While welcoming the enactment of the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003) and the Female Genital Mutilation Prohibition (Scotland) Act (2005), the Committee is concerned that there have been no prosecutions under this legislation. The Committee is also concerned that the number of women and girls who have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation is on the rise.
The Committee urges the State party to ensure the full implementation of legislation to prohibit female genital mutilation, including prosecution of perpetrators, with a view to eliminating this harmful traditional practice. The Committee recommends the expansion of training activities and programmes for public officials, in particular law enforcement personnel and health-service providers, as well as the British Medical Association, so as to ensure that they are sensitised to the issue and can provide adequate support to victims. The Committee invites the State party to increase its efforts to design and implement targeted prevention strategies, as well as education and awareness-raising programmes involving community and religious leaders, women’s organisations and the general public. (Paragraphs 278 and 279)
Violence against women and girls: The Committee is concerned about the continuing prevalence of violence against women and girls, including domestic and sexual violence, and about the low prosecution and conviction rates of sexual violence cases. While welcoming the various measures undertaken by the State party to combat and eliminate violence against women, such as the adoption of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), which includes a range of protection and support measures for victims, the introduction of action plans on domestic and sexual violence, and the establishment of specialist domestic violence courts, the Committee remains concerned about the absence of a comprehensive national strategy and programme to combat all forms of violence against women and girls. The Committee notes with concern the lack of adequate support and services for victims, including shelters, which is compounded by the funding crisis facing NGOs working in the area of violence against women and the forced closures of a number of such organisations. The Committee also notes with concern that corporal punishment is lawful in the home and constitutes a form of violence against children, including the girl child.
The Committee urges the State party to accord priority attention to the adoption of comprehensive measures to address violence against women in accordance with its general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women. The Committee calls upon the State party to ensure the full implementation of legislation on violence against women, as well as the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators. In line with its previous concluding observations of 1999, the Committee also calls upon the State party to adopt and implement a unified and multifaceted national strategy to eliminate violence against women and girls, which would include legal, education, financial and social components. The Committee recommends the expansion of training activities and programmes for parliamentarians, the judiciary and public officials, in particular law enforcement personnel and health-service providers, so as to ensure that they are sensitised to all forms of violence against women and can provide adequate support to victims. It recommends the expansion of public awareness-raising campaigns on all forms of violence against women and girls. The Committee also recommends the establishment of additional counselling and other support services for victims of violence, including shelters, and requests the State party to enhance its cooperation with and support, in particular adequate and sustained funding support, for NGOs working in the area of violence against women. The Committee further recommends that the State party include in its legislation the prohibition of corporal punishment of children in the home. (Paragraphs 280 and 281)
Trafficking of women and children: The Committee welcomes the State party’s stated intention to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the end of 2008. The Committee also welcomes the recent announcement of a 45- day period of recovery and reflection for victims of trafficking, as well as the granting of temporary one-year visas. While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to combat trafficking in women and children, including the adoption of the Sexual Offences Act (2003) and the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act (2004), the adoption of the United Kingdom Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking, and the launching of national multi-agency police operations (Operation Pentameter I and II), the Committee is concerned by the continuing prevalence and extent of this problem.
The Committee urges the State party to continue to take all appropriate measures to combat all forms of trafficking in women and children in line with article 6 of the Convention. In this respect, the Committee also urges the State party not only to address criminal justice measures and the prosecution of traffickers but also the protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking victims. The Committee further urges the State party to ensure the provision of adequate support services to victims, including those who do not cooperate with the authorities, and invites the State party to give consideration to granting victims of trafficking indefinite leave to remain. The Committee calls upon the State party to increase its efforts at international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination in order to prevent trafficking, to bring perpetrators to justice and to improve reintegration programmes to prevent victimisation. (Paragraphs 282 and 283)
Childcare: The Committee is also concerned about the lack of available and affordable childcare.
The Committee also recommends that the State party continue its efforts to assist women and men to reconcile family and professional responsibilities and for its promotion of equal sharing of domestic and family tasks by providing, inter alia, more and improved childcare facilities. The Committee further recommends that the State party encourage men to share responsibility for childcare, including through awareness-raising activities and by taking parental leave. (Paragraphs 28 and 287)
Teenage pregnancy and abortion: Recalling its concluding observations of 1999, the Committee continues to be concerned at the high rate of teenage pregnancies, which is among the highest in Europe. The Committee notes that the Abortion Act (1967) does not extend to Northern Ireland, where, with limited exceptions, abortion continues to be illegal, with detrimental consequences for women’s health.
The Committee urges the State party to continue its efforts to lower the rate of teenage pregnancies, including through improvements in the availability and affordability of sexual and reproductive health services, as well as family planning information and services. It recommends the adoption of measures to increase knowledge of, and access to, affordable contraceptive methods, and recommends that sex education be widely promoted and targeted at adolescent girls and boys. In line with its previous recommendation, the Committee reiterates its call to the State party to initiate a process of public consultation in Northern Ireland on the abortion law. In line with its general recommendation No. 24 on women and health and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Committee urges the State party to give consideration to amending the abortion law so as to remove punitive provisions imposed on women who undergo abortion. The Committee encourages the State party to monitor carefully the delivery of health services in order that it may respond in a gender-sensitive manner to all health concerns of women and in this regard invites the State party to utilise the Committee’s general recommendation No. 24 as a framework for action to ensure that all health policies and programmes integrate a gender perspective. (Paragraphs 288 and 289)
UN Committee against Torture
Last reported: 7 / 8 May 2013
Concluding Observations issued:27 May 2013
Child abuse: While welcoming the establishment in May 2012 of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which will investigate the experiences of abuse of children in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995, the Committee regrets that some victims, such as women over 18 who were confined in Magdalene Laundries and equivalent institutions, as well as clerical abuse survivors, will fall outside the remits of the inquiry (arts. 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16).
The Committee recommends that the State party conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigations into all cases of institutional abuse that took place in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995, including women over 18 who were detained in Magdalene Laundries and equivalent institutions in Northern Ireland, and ensure that, where possible and appropriate, perpetrators are prosecuted and punished, and that all victims of abuse obtain redress and compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible, in accordance with the Committee’s general comment No. 3 on implementation of article 14 by States parties. (Paragraph 24)
Violence: While taking note of the guidance for England and Wales, which seeks to limit the use of electrical discharge weapons to situations where there is a serious threat of violence, the Committee expresses concern that the use of electrical discharge weapons almost doubled in 2011 and that the State party intends to further extend their use in the Metropolitan Police area. In addition, it is deeply concerned at instances where electrical discharge weapons were used on children, persons with disabilities and in recent policing operations where the serious threat of violence was questioned (arts. 2 and 16).
The State party should ensure that electrical discharge weapons are used exclusively in extreme and limited situations where there is a real and immediate threat to life or risk of serious injury, as a substitute for lethal weapons, and by trained law enforcement personnel only. The State party should revise the regulations governing the use of such weapons, with a view to establishing a high threshold for their use, and expressly prohibiting their use on children and pregnant women. The Committee is of the view that the use of electrical discharge weapons should be subject to the principles of necessity and proportionality and should be inadmissible in the equipment of custodial staff in prisons or any other place of deprivation of liberty. The Committee urges the State party to provide detailed instructions and adequate training to law enforcement personnel entitled to use electric discharge weapons and to strictly monitor and supervise their use. (Paragraph 26)
Age of criminal responsibility: The Committee welcomes the enactment of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, which raises the age of criminal prosecution from 8 to 12 years in Scotland. The Committee remains concerned, however, that criminal responsibility starts at the age of 8 in Scotland and 10 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and regrets the State party’s reluctance to raise it despite the call of more than 50 organizations, charities and experts in December 2012 and the repeated recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/15/ADD.135, CRC/C/15/ADD.188, CRC/C/GBR/CO/4) (arts. 2 and 16).
The State party should raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility and ensure the full implementation of juvenile justice standards, as expressed in the General Comment No. 10 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (paras. 32 and 33). The State party should ensure the full implementation of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (Riyadh Guidelines). (Paragraph 27)
Restraint of children: The Committee is concerned that the State party is still using techniques of restraint that aim to inflict deliberate pain on children in Young Offender Institutions, including to maintain good order and discipline (arts. 2 and 16).
The Committee reiterates the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child to ensure that restraint against children is used only as a last resort and exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others and that all methods of physical restraint for disciplinary purposes be abolished (CRC/C/GBR/CO/4). The Committee also recommends that the State party ban the use of any technique designed to inflict pain on children. (Paragraph 28)
Corporal punishment: The Committee takes note of amendments to legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which limit the application of the defence of “reasonable punishment” (or “justifiable assault” in Scotland), but remains concerned that some forms of corporal punishment are still legally permissible in the home for parents and those in loco parentis. In addition, it expresses concern that some forms of corporal punishment is lawful in the home, schools and alternative care settings in almost all overseas territories and crown dependencies.
The Committee recommends that the State party prohibits corporal punishment of children in all settings in Metropolitan territory, Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, repealing all legal defences currently in place, and further promote positive non-violent forms of discipline via public campaigns as an alternative to corporal punishment. (Paragraph 29)
Immigration Detention: The Committee notes that the expansion of immigration detention has prompted some reforms including the adoption of the Borders, Citizenship, and Immigration Act (2009), aimed at streamlining immigration processes, the official disavowal of child detention, and revised processes for dealing with Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules. The Committee remains concerned at:
(a) Instances where children, torture survivors, victims of trafficking, and persons with seriously mental disability were detained while their asylum cases were decided;
(b) Cases of torture survivors and people with mental health conditions entering the Detained Fast Track (DFT) system due to a lack of clear guidance and inadequate screening processes, and the fact that torture survivors need to produce ‘independent evidence of torture’ at the screening interview to be recognized as unsuitable for the DFT system;
(c) The absence of limit on the duration of detention in Immigration Removal Centres (arts. 2, 3, 11 and 16).
The Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Ensure that detention is used only as a last resort in accordance with the requirements of international law and not for administrative convenience;
(b) Take necessary measures to ensure that vulnerable people and torture survivors are not routed into the Detained Fast Track System, including by: i) reviewing the screening process for administrative detention of asylum-seekers upon entry; ii) lowering the evidential threshold for torture survivors; iii) conducting an immediate independent review of the application of Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules in immigration detention, in line with the Home Affairs Committee’s recommendation and ensure that similar rules apply to short term holding facilities; and iv) amending the 2010 UK Border Agency Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, which allows for the detention of people with mental illness unless their mental illness is so serious it cannot be managed in detention;
(c) Introduce a limit for immigration detention and take all necessary steps to prevent cases of de facto indefinite detention. (Paragraph 30)
Detention conditions: The Committee is concerned about the steady increase in the prison population throughout the past decade and the problem of overcrowding, and its impact on suicide rate, cases of self-injuries, prisoner violence and access to recreational activities. The Committee echoes the concerns raised by the UK National Preventive Mechanism in 2010 concerning deficiencies in the access to appropriate mental health care and treatment and inappropriate placements of children. It is deeply concerned that children with mental disabilities can sometimes be placed in police custody in England for its “own interest or for the protection of others” (arts. 11 and 16).
The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its efforts and set concrete targets to reduce the high level of imprisonment and overcrowding, in particular through the wider use of non-custodial measures as an alternative to imprisonment, in the light of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non- Custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules). It further recommends to speedily implement the reforms undertaken with a view to reducing reoffending rate. The State party should ensure that children with mental disabilities shall in no case be detained in police custody but directed to appropriate health institutions. Detainees who require psychiatric supervision and treatment should be provided with adequate accommodation and psychosocial support care. The Committee also recommends that the State party step up its efforts to prevent violence and self-harm in places of detention. (Paragraph 31)
Last reported: 17 and 18 November 2004
Concluding Observations published: 10 December 2004
No mentions of children's rights in this report.
Not yet signed or ratified.
Last reported: 24 November 2011
Concluding observations issued: 3 October 2017
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
General principles and obligations (arts. 1-4)
The Committee is concerned about the challenges facing organisations of persons with disabilities, including organisations representing women, children and intersex persons with disabilities, to access support and be consulted and actively involved in the implementation of the Convention (para 10, a).
The Committee recommends that the State party: allocate financial resources to support organisations representing persons with disabilities, including women and children with disabilities, and develop mechanisms to ensure an inclusive, strategic, and active involvement of organisations of persons with disabilities, including women, children and intersex persons in planning and implementing of all legislation and measures affecting the lives of persons with disabilities (para. 11, a).
Children with disabilities (art. 7)
The Committee is concerned about: the lack of policy framework addressing poverty of families with children with disabilities; the failure to incorporate the human rights model of disability in public policies and legislation concerning children and young persons with disabilities; the lack of monitoring mechanisms and reliable indicators, in particular concerning bullying against children with disabilities in school; the absence of a general statutory duty upon public authorities to ensure adequate childcare for children with disabilities; and the reported increase of incidents of bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities (para 20).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of representing children with disabilities, develop and implement policies aimed at: eliminating the higher level of poverty among families with children with disabilities; incorporating the human rights model of disability into all laws and regulations concerning children with disabilities; setting up an independent monitoring mechanism to assess the situation of children with disabilities in school, particularly those facing bullying, through reliable indicators; securing sufficient and disability-sensitive childcare as a statutory duty across the State party; and strengthening measures to prevent bullying, hate speech and hate crime against children with disabilities (para 21).
Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (art. 15)
The Committee is concerned about the continued use of physical, mechanical and chemical restraint, including the use of Taser guns and similar weapons, on persons with disabilities, which affects persons with psychosocial disabilities in prisons, the youth justice system, health-care and education settings, as well as practices of segregation and seclusion (para. 36.
The Committee recommends that the State party: set up strategies, in collaboration with monitoring authorities and national human rights institutions, in order to identify and prevent the use of restraint for children and young persons with disabilities (para 37, b).
Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse (art. 16)
The Committee is concerned about abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation to women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities, and the insufficient measures to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities. It is further concerned at the information on cases of disability hate crime, in absence of consistent data collection and differences in legal provisions for sentencing different types of hate crime, particularly in England and Wales (para. 38).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities, and in line with target 16.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: establish measures to ensure equal access to justice and to safeguard persons with disabilities, particularly women, children, intersex people and elderly persons with disabilities from abuse, ill-treatment, sexual violence and/or exploitation (para. 39, a).
Protecting the integrity of the person (art. 17)
The Committee is concerned that persons with disabilities, including women, intersex persons, girls and boys, reportedly continue to be subjected to involuntary medical treatment, including forced sterilization and conversion surgeries (para. 40).
The Committee recommends that the State party repeal all types of legislation, regulations and practices allowing any form of forced intervention or surgery, and ensure that the right to free, prior and informed consent to treatment is upheld and that supported decision-making mechanisms and strengthened safeguards are provided, paying particular attention to women, intersex persons, girls and boys (para. 41).
Living independently and being included in the community (art. 19)
The Committee is concerned about: the fact that the State party’s legislation fails to recognize living independently and being included in the community as a human right that enshrines individual autonomy, control and choice as intrinsic aspects of that right; the fact that many persons with disabilities are still institutionalized and deprived of the right to live independently and be included within the community, when: (i) they lack the financial resources to afford personal assistance; (ii) local authorities are of the opinion that they can provide assistance within care homes; and (iii) the cost rationale constitutes the main parameter of an assessment; the lack of support services and accessible public facilities, including personal assistance, for persons with disabilities, regardless of sex, gender, age and other status, to live independently and be included in the community (para. 44).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with the Committee’s General Comment no. 5 (2017) Living independently and being included in the community and the Committee’s Inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out by the Committee under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (CRPD/C/15/R.2/Rev.1): Recognize the right to living independently and being included in the community as a subjective right, recognize the enforceability of all its elements, and adopt rights-based policies, regulations and guidelines to ensure implementation; set up a comprehensive plan, developed in close collaboration with organisations of persons with disabilities, aimed at deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, and develop community-based independent living schemes through a holistic and cross cutting approach, including education, child care, transport, housing, employment and social security (para 45, a, d).
Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information (art. 21)
The Committee notes with concern: the lack of training and education for families, classmates and co-workers in high-quality sign language communication in order to better provide for the inclusion within the community of deaf persons and hard of hearing persons (para. 46, c).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in consultation with organisations representing persons with disabilities, allocate resources for education of children with hearing impairment, their families and others, such as classmates or co-workers in British Sign Language and tactile language (para. 47, c)
Respect for private and family life (art. 23)
The Committee is concerned that parents with disabilities do not receive appropriate services and support, resulting in children being removed from the family environment and placed in foster care, group homes or institutions. It is also concerned at the insufficient funding for parents of deaf children to learn sign language (para. 48).
The Committee recommends that the State party ensure appropriate support for parents with disabilities to fulfil effectively their role as parents and that disability is not used as a reason to place their children in care or remove their child from the home; ensure that local authorities have the legal duty to allocate and provide funds for parents wishing to learn sign language (para. 49).
Education (art. 24)
The Committee takes note of the information provided by the State party of reviewing its position about its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention, upon new evidence or research findings (para. 50).
The Committee recommends that the State party without further delay withdraw its reservation to article 24 Clause 2 (a) and (b) of the Convention (para. 51).
The Committee is concerned at: the persistence of a dual education system that segregates children with disabilities to special schools, including based on parental choice; the number of children with disabilities in segregated education environments is increasing; the education system is not geared to respond to the requirements for high-quality inclusive education, in particular the information about occurrences of school authorities turning down enrolment of student with disability who is deemed ‘as disruptive to other classmates’; and education and training of teachers in inclusion competences is not reflecting the requirements of inclusive education (para. 52).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in close consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, especially organisations representing children and young persons with disabilities, and in line with the Committee’s general comment No. 4 (2014) on inclusive education, and Sustainable Development Goal 4, targets 4.5 and 4.8: develop a comprehensive and coordinated legislative and policy framework for inclusive education, and a timeframe to ensure that mainstream schools foster real inclusion of children with disabilities in the school environment and teachers and all other professionals and persons in contact with children understand the concept of inclusion and are able to enhance inclusive education; strengthen measures to monitor school practices concerning enrolment of children with disabilities and offer appropriate remedies in cases of disability-related discrimination and/or harassment, including deciding upon schemes for compensation; adopt and implement a coherent strategy, financed with concrete timelines and measurable goals, on increasing and improving inclusive education. The strategy must: ensure the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations improving the extent and quality of inclusive education in classrooms, support provisions and teacher training, including pedagogical capabilities, across all levels providing for high-quality inclusive environments, including within breaks between lessons and through socialisation outside “education time”; setup initiatives raising awareness about and support to inclusive education among parents of children with disabilities; and provide sufficient, relevant data on the number of students both in inclusive and segregated education disaggregated by impairment, age, sex and ethnic background, and further provide data on the outcome of the education reflecting the capabilities of the students (para. 53).
Health (art. 25)
The Committee is concerned about the uneven access to health across the State party, including under the devolved governments, and about multiple barriers to access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and insufficient information and education on family planning in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls (para. 54, c).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with representative organisations of persons with disabilities, ensure equal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, as set out in target 3.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provide information and education on family planning for persons with disabilities in accessible formats, including Easy Read (para. 55, c).
Adequate standard of living and social protection (art. 28)
The Committee is concerned about the impact of austerity measures and antipoverty initiatives, as a consequence of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, which resulted in severe negative economic constraints among persons with disabilities and their families, in particular among families with children with disabilities, including increased reliance on food banks (para. 58, a).
The Committee recommends that the State party, in close collaboration with organizations of persons with disabilities across all territorial entities, in line with the Committee’s report on its inquiry concerning the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland carried out under article 6 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, guided by article 28 of the Convention and implementing target 10.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals: introduce, adopt and implement legislative frameworks to ensure that social protection policies and programmes across the State party secure income levels for all persons with disabilities and their families, by taking into account the additional costs relating to disability, and ensuring that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their parental responsibilities. The State party must ensure that members of the new Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group have access to full compensation of disability-related costs (para. 59, a).
Not yet signed or ratified.