The Scope of the EQFSIA
Ensuring that the human rights of all people are fully respected, protected and fulfilled is central to building the more equal and prosperous future which the Scottish Government wants for Scotland. The Bill is the first step in the delivering the Scottish Government’s wider ambition on human rights and will be followed by a Bill to deliver a statutory human rights framework for all further to the recommendations of the Human Rights Taskforce later this year. By incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law the Bill will ensure that all children and young people can access their rights equally. The Scottish Government know that full enjoyment of human rights is often more challenging for those with protected characteristics and the Scottish Government considers that the Bill, by incorporating and making children’s rights enforceable, will support children and young people and their families to advocate for their rights and have these respected in practice.
The UNCRC sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children hold up to the age of 18 years old, whatever their ethnicity, gender, religion, language, abilities, or any other status. The provisions within this Bill will affect all children and young people below the age of 18 living in Scotland.
The Bill will also ensure that children can access rights that will be of particular importance to their situations, such as care experienced children and young people (article 9 - Separation from parents, article 18 - Parental responsibilities and state assistance, article 19 - Protection from all forms of violence, article 20 - Children deprived of a family) and those with additional support needs or disabilities (article 23 - Children with disabilities).
The Scottish Government has drawn on a wide range of evidence in the development of this Bill and to inform the Impact Assessments. The “Children’s Rights: Consultation on incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into our domestic law in Scotland” sought to ensure that the voices of as many different children and young people could be heard as possible. In addition, a wide range of third sector organisations and public authorities with experience of working with children and young people from protected groups and with additional needs were heard from.
Consultation in preparation of the Bill
The Scottish Government has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to inform the development of this Bill. The Scottish Government recognises the need for continuous and effective engagement and will continue to engage with a range of stakeholders as the Bill progresses through parliament and into implementation.
Public consultation and engagement
The Scottish Government launched a public consultation on 22 May 2019 called “Children’s Rights: Consultation on incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into our domestic law in Scotland” which invited views on the best model of incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law. The consultation was undertaken from 22 May 2019 to 28 August 2019. 162 responses were received from individuals, public bodies, third sector, legal organisations, academia and others.
To complement the public consultation, a range of bilateral official and Ministerial meetings were held over the summer, meeting 47 organisations representing a number of different sectors. The Scottish Government recognises the right of children to be involved in decisions that affect them and to that end, funded seven events which engaged over 180 children and young people to support their engagement in the consultation.
The responses to the consultation were published in November 2019, where the Scottish Government has permission to do so. In addition, the Scottish Government has published an analysis of all consultation responses was published. An accessible version of the consultation analysis can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Since the consultation closed, the Scottish Government has continued to engage with a range of stakeholders including:
- Aberdeen City Council
- Aberdeenshire Council
- Association of Directors of Education in Scotland
- Care Inspectorate
- Child Protection Committees Scotland
- Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland
- Children’s Hearings Scotland
- Community Justice Scotland
- Disclosure Scotland
- Fife Council
- Judicial Institute for Scotland
- Mental Health Welfare Commission
- NHS Highland
- Police Scotland
- Public Health Scotland
- Scottish Children’s Reporter Association
- Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
- Scottish Enterprise
- Scottish Legal Aid Board
- Scottish Parliament
- Scottish Prison Service
- Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
- Shetland Council
- Social Work Scotland
- South Lanarkshire Council
- Sports Scotland
- Together Scotland
- The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
- The Scottish Social Services Council
UNCRC Incorporation working group
A short-life working group was convened in June 2019 to inform the development of a model that incorporates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into domestic law in Scotland.
The Group considered the policy, practice and legislative implications of UNCRC incorporation, using the Scottish Government’s consultation document, 'Incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law consultation' as a key framework for its work.
The terms of reference, minutes from meetings, summaries of workshop discussions and a summary report of discussions of the Working Group can be found on the Scottish Government website. The group met a number of times and the views described in these documents are the opinions and discussions of those individuals in the working group, as expressed during the meetings of the group.
Consultation with Children and Young People
One of the General Prinicples of the UNCRC is Article 12, which states that children and young people have a right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. In keeping with this right the Scottish Government supported seven engagement events to hear directly from children and young people. The events were hosted by:
1. Children 1st
2. Children in Scotland
3. Children’s Parliament
4. Scottish Learning and Disability Commission
5. Scottish Youth Parliament
6. Young Scot
7. YouthLink Scotland
In addition, A stand-alone analysis based on responses to the public consultation by eleven respondents identified by the Scottish Government as being organisations that represent the views of children and young people was also undertaken.
The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership
The principal recommendation of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership which reported on 10 December 2018 was the creation of a new statutory human rights framework for Scotland. This would involve a new Act of the Scottish Parliament (ASP) which incorporates rights from UN and other human rights treaties, including the UNCRC into Scots law. The Advisory Group proposed that such an ASP should set out, for the first time, and in one place, the rights belonging to everyone in Scotland. The group proposed that the ASP could be legislated for at the commencement of the next session of the Parliament in 2021.
Rather than delivering a Bill to incorporate the UNCRC in this parliamentary session, it would be possible to achieve this as part of such a comprehensive human rights framework. This would allow all rights to be brought together in one place, including those of children and young people under other human rights treaties. It would not, however, be possible to pass this legislation before the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021. As a result the Scottish Government has confirmed its intention to push ahead with the UNCRC incorporation now. The Advisory Group explicitly recognised in its report that longer term ambitions to incorporate all human rights treaties should not cause any delay to UNCRC incorporation.
Since then, the Scottish Government have kept the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership group advised on the policy development for the UNCRC Bill and it is expected that the approach taken can dovetail with any wider approach recommended by the Taskforce in due course.