Annex E - Incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Domestic Law in Scotland Working Group
Discussion on paper from Dr Kenneth Meechan (See Annex D)
Minutes of Meeting Held by teleconference at 3 pm on Monday, 9 September 2019
Present: Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures (Chair)
Dr. Katie Boyle, University of Stirling
Michael Clancy OBE, The Law Society of Scotland
Chief Superintendent David Duncan, Police Scotland
Juliet Harris, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
Dr. Kenneth Meechan, SOLAR
In Attendance: Liz Blair, SG Legal Directorate
Nicola Guild, SG Legal Directorate 58
Alexandra Devoy, SG, Children’s Rights
Lawrence Mearns, SG Children’s Rights
Welcome and Introduction
1. The Chair thanked Members for attending the meeting and invited Dr Kenneth Meechan, to present his discussion paper, which had been previously circulated. The paper aimed to provide a way through the challenges of incorporating the UNCRC into Scots Law as the Convention covered both devolved and reserved matters and suggested an option to address these. The paper can be accessed at Annex D. The Chair thanked Dr Meechan for his presentation and invited reflections from the Members.
2. Members raised the following points:
- There was discussion about the focus on what would be required at a front line level. An operational perspective was provided by Police Scotland who have experience of working with both devolved and reserved legislation. They noted that it would not be desirable to get to the point where children are treated differently depending upon what functions are being exercised. Clarity is required for front line operations.
- A Member suggested that it would be helpful to have a consistent and clear definition of a child in Scots law to help to avoid confusion and possible unintentional breaches in the delivery of frontline services. At present there are a number of different definitions of a child in Scots law for different purposes.
- There was also discussion about the fact that clarity would be desirable for children also. It was acknowledged that it would not be desirable to raise an expectation that the Act would, for example, require certain action to be taken which in fact would not be the case because of the restrictions of legislative competence.
- It was suggested that the reference to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill could be considered for any applicable lessons.
- A Member suggested that UNCRC rights and obligations can be categorised into 3 themes: those that relate fully to devolved functions; those which relate to both devolved and reserved functions; and those which relate solely to reserved functions. It is important to navigate this complexity in order to find a way to directly incorporate the UNCRC within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament.
3. On closing the meeting, the Chair thanked Dr. Meechan for his thought-provoking paper and thanked Members for their active participation in the discussion.