The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Incorporation Bill passed Stage 2 on 11 February 2021. Children’s Health Scotland was one of over 40 organisations and academics who worked with Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights, to provide a briefing for MSPs and we are delighted that many of the amendments highlighted in this briefing have been agreed.
Key amendments agreed include:
- Commencement date: this will be six months after royal assent.
- Definition of public authority: organisations carrying out functions “under a contract or other arrangement with a public authority” will fall within the scope of the duty to act compatibly with the UNCRC requirements.
- Interpretation: a series of amendments were passed which will strengthen the interpretation of children’s rights. This includes instructing courts to look at interpretative sources from the UNCRC and other UN Treaty Bodies such as General Comments, Concluding Observations and recommendations.
- Remedies: amendments were passed that provide remedies under the Bill must be “effective” and that children’s views should be sought and taken into account when determining this.
- Child-friendly reports: amendments were passed which will require child-friendly reports across various parts of the Bill.
- Children’s Rights Scheme: a series of amendments were passed which will strengthen the Scheme. These included amendments to specify certain topics that the Children’s Rights Scheme must include, such as processes for child-friendly complaints, access to justice and steps to ensure the rights of children with protected characteristics or in situations of vulnerability.
- Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIA): amendments reduced the level of ministerial discretion and improved transparency around CRWIAs.
- Public body reporting duty: the reporting duty was amended to make it forward looking, so that listed authorities must report both on what they have done and will do to further children’s rights. The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and Scottish Prison Service were added to the list of bodies required to report.
An updated version of the Bill which reflects the amendments can be accessed here.
The Bill will now proceed to Stage 3. Further amendments may be made at this point and a final vote will be held on whether the Bill should be passed. Dates for Stage 3 are still to be fixed.