Scotland commissioner urges government to protect children’s rights in Brexit talks
Scotland’s children’s commissioner and leading children’s charities this week joined a rally at Westminster to demand that the UK government and parliament engage with children and take their rights seriously in Brexit negotiations.
Representatives from Scotland’s children’s sector, including the country’s children and young people’s commissioner, joined a mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday where hundreds of MPs were asked to fully protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in Europe after Brexit.
The children’s group then told a special parliamentary event that children must be heard and their views sought on Brexit. The group discussed with parliamentarians the possible implications of Brexit for children across the UK, including plans for child-related EU law within the EU Withdrawal Bill, and the social and economic rights of EU migrant and non-EU nationality children in the UK.
Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said: “We’re only just beginning to understand the full impact that leaving the EU could have on children and young people. From family law and child protection through to tackling child trafficking and poverty, the EU provides children and young people with fundamental rights and protections that are now at risk … we hope parliamentarians begin to recognise and understand the importance of ensuring children and young people’s rights are at the heart of every decision made from now on”.
Despite inheriting the full impact of Brexit as they grow up, children have been excluded from discussions about it
The commissioner, Bruce Adamson joined representatives of Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children in Scotland at a House of Commons event, Children’s Rights Following Brexit. Amy Woodhouse of Children in Scotland also spoke at a rally outside Parliament. The group, which is coordinating to raise the profile of children’s rights and Brexit at the UK-level makes three key calls:
- Despite inheriting the full impact of Brexit as they grow up, children have been excluded from discussions about it, both in the run-up to the referendum and since. A coherent structure now needs to be put in place to ensure they are involved and kept informed.
- Children and young people have benefited significantly from EU membership and are disproportionately affected by the issues raised pre-Brexit and by withdrawal.
- Politicians at the forefront of the Brexit debate need to acknowledge and better understand these issues and give children’s views the platform they deserve now.
Legislation that keeps children safe
Commissioner Admamson,said: “Children and young people in Scotland, and across the UK, have the right to contribute their views to the Brexit negotiations and should be given meaningful opportunities to do so. Information on how Brexit could affect their lives should be provided in a child-friendly format and then their views sought in both formal and informal ways.
“The EU has… (guaranteed) … direct entitlement for children in areas including child migration, asylum, child protection and paediatric medicine. Legislation that keeps children safe covers child trafficking, child abduction and child sexual exploitation. Much of this has been transposed into domestic law and this has to continue post Brexit. But what is often forgotten is the cross-border EU activity that supports all of this”.
71 per cent of 18-24 year-olds in the UK voted to remain in the EU
Children in Scotland’s Chief Executive, Jackie Brock, said: “According to YouGov, 71% of 18-24 year-olds in the UK voted to remain in last year’s referendum. The voices of this generation, 16- and 17-year-olds who were disenfranchised from voting in the referendum, and younger children, are being sidelined in the Brexit debate. Yet it’s they who will most feel the impact of our withdrawal from the EU. There is a clear democratic deficit being reflected in the Brexit negotiations. We need our politicians to take notice, demonstrate awareness, and bring children’s voices into the heart of this debate.”
Source: Children in Scotland
Photo: Daily Mail