Today, it was a typical Glasgow downpour and we were all glad to get into the hall and dry off! We were really pleased to welcome Juliet Harris from ‘Together Scotland’ to come and talk and discuss with us.
‘Together Scotland’ is an organisation which monitors the way in which children are being treated in Scotland and that their rights are being upheld. In particular they concentrate on children’s rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC).
The UK signed up to this convention approximately twenty years ago, but unfortunately many of its fundamental principles are still not being put into action. Juliet outlined some of the main articles in this document:
These rights are not conditional and do not come with responsibility. A child is defined as any human under the age of eighteen.
This followed with a discussion, where many members gave examples of how their child’s rights under the UNCRC had not been met in Scotland. One member told how her daughter had been excluded from attending any nursery while her mother waited for Leave to Remain to be granted. This had happened at a critical age for development (2 years old) and has resulted in her daughter now being significantly behind her peers in language development. We discussed how this contravened her daughter’s right to socialization, play and development. Another member brought up how her daughter could not apply for British Citizenship individually, but had to apply jointly with her mother. However, what if her Mother did not wish to give up her nationality, but her daughter, having been living in Scotland from a very young age, did want to become a British citizen? This conflicts with a child’s right in the UNCRC to be treated as an independent human being and their right to participate in decisions affecting their lives.
‘Together Scotland’ have embarked on putting together an annual report highlighting violations such as those our members have experienced and reporting these back to the United Nations. Juliet asked if she could return to meet with Karibu next April to conduct a workshop in order to find ideas for next year’s report. She could include case studies of some of our members’ experiences and these would be recorded anonymously. Karibu agreed that this would be a great opportunity for some of our members’ negative experiences to be recorded and contribute to changes in policy.
Juliet concluded by underlining the importance of making sure the people you work with are aware of the UN Convention. Especially, UKBA officials, Doctors, Legal representatives etc. The principle of the ‘Best interests of the Child’ in particular can be important in asylum cases and she knows of several law firms who have been very successful in using this in particular asylum disputes.
‘Together Scotland’ and Juliet Harris are happy to hear from any members who would like to discuss this further or who need any advice on this topic.
We would like to thank Juliet for taking the time to come over to Glasgow and get to know Karibu and we look forward to contributing to the work of ‘Together Scotland’ and campaigning for our children to have equal chances and oportunities as is their right in international law.