On 28 May 2019, MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament), overwhelmingly backed a bill to ban the smacking of children.
The bill had been put forward by Green MSP John Finnie and was designed to give children the same legal protections from assault as adults.
MSPs approved the bill by by 80 votes to 29. The Conservatives voted against the bill.
Some opponents to the bill argued that it interfered with family life and could see parents prosecuted for disciplining their children.
The bill will now go before a committee at Holyrood to be considered in more detail. The draft legislation will go before MSPs again before it is passed into law.
Family Law Inverness commented, “Currently in Scotland, parents are able to claim a defence of “justifiable assault” when smacking their child. However, the use of an “implement” in any punishment is banned, as is shaking or striking a child on the head. The bill would end that defence, meaning Scottish parents could face prosecution for smacking their children. There have been huge changes in society and people have been campaigning for many years for Scotland’s law makers to ban smacking. “
Lawyers have welcomed the government’s planned introduction of no fault divorce.
Under current laws, in order to get a divorce, you must meet the following criteria:
- you’ve been married for over a year
- your relationship has permanently broken down
- your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
- the UK is your permanent home, or the permanent home of your husband or wife
The five current grounds for divorce are:
- Unreasonable behaviour
- Separation for at least 2 years
- Separation for at least 5 years
This means that if a separating couple want to divorce and neither of them wishes to admit blame, they must live apart for two years. If one spouse does not agree to ending the marriage, they must live apart for five years before a divorce is granted.
The government has proposed to introduce no fault divorce. It is hoped that this will allow separating couples to part in a way that reduces pain, stress and conflict for families.
A spokesperson from Cardiff Family Lawyers commented, “It is encouraging to see that the government is finally taking action to overhaul this outdated aspect of family law. It many cases, forcing either party to admit to fault can make an already difficult and tense time even more painful for families. The introduction of no fault divorce should help to reduce conflicts in divorce, especially when there are children involved.”
A recent Guardian article has reported a very steep rise in child labour, slavery and exploitation.
In 2017, more than 5,000 potential victims of slavery and exploitation were reported to the UK authorities. This was the highest number ever reported in a single year in the UK.
Of these 5,000 potential victims, a staggering 41% of those reported were children under the age of 18. Most of these reports were connected to suspected drug trafficking or child sexual exploitation. Other reports included suspected forced labour and even suspected organ harvesting.
Victoria Atkins, the minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said, “We know there is more to do, and we are working to improve the system for identifying victims and supporting them to leave situations of exploitation and begin to recover and rebuild their lives.”
It is believed that the NCA’s wide reaching campaign against modern slavery and an increased public awareness of the signs of modern slavery have resulted in more people coming forward to the authorities with their suspicions.
Anyone who suspects that a child is a potential victim of child labour, exploitation or modern slavery is encouraged to make a report to http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/.
Forced marriage of children is a huge problem across the world and even within the UK.
The International Research Centre on Womens’ Rights has estimated that 33% of girls in the developing world are married before the the age of 18. Child marriage is most common in Sub-Saharan and Western Africa as well as Asia.
Child marriage creates many problems. It removes girls from their homes, families and communities at a young age. This can leave them in a vulnerable position and at risk of harm and abuse. It can also interupt their schooling and reduces their ability to enter the workforce. The effects of child marriage can be devastating for boys as well as girls.
UK law, and international law, makes it very clear that forced marriage of children is a fundemental restriction of their human rights. Article 16(2) of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) stipulates that: Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
At such a young age, it is impossible for children to consent to a marriage.
UNICEF have also reported that marriage of children is most prevalent within the most deprived communities.
Astoundingly, child marriage occurs within the UK. The UK Government set up the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) to tackle these issues and help to protect children. Legislation has also been brought into force to help prevent forced marriages of vulnerable people, known as Forced Marrriage Protection Orders.
Anyone effected by these issues can contact a family or child rights lawyer for assistance.
The SNP’s controversial Named Person Scheme has been ruled unlawful by the UK’s Supreme Court.
The Scottish National Party introduced this policy with the aims of giving every child in Scotland a ‘named person’ who would be available to help and advise the child. The Scottish government argued that having designated person would help families address problems before they became more serious.
The named person would also act as a liaison between the family and government services such as the health service, bereavement counseling and speech and language services.
However, many people have argued that the Named Person Scheme is an unnecessary state intrusion into private family lives and may even be incompatible with EU law.
Since the scheme was announced, many bodies have voiced concerns with the policy, and the campaign group No to Named Person was set up. This organisation argues that the scheme will intrude upon parent’s responsibilities and decision making for their own children.
Their main concerns include undermining family privacy; the fact the scheme is compulsory for every child in Scotland and that the scheme facilitate state intervention when there is no risk of harm only concerns about a child’s “happiness”.
The UK Supreme Court ruled that aspects of the scheme were incompatible with EU law. The ways of sharing information between named persons and other bodies were ruled unlawful.
However, despite the ruling, this is not necessarily the end for the Named Person Scheme. The Scottish Government have vowed to start work on addressing the non-compliant aspects of the scheme so that the policy can be introduced.
The BBC has reported that the European Court of Justice has backed the UK government’s stance on the right that EU migrant children have to claim benefits.
The UK government argued that EU migrants in the UK who are not working should not be entitled to benefits if they did not have the right to stay in the UK. This view was supported by the European Court of Justice who ruled that the measure was lawful on the grounds of protecting public finances.
The European Court of Justice’s decision was met by differing reactions. Vote Leave, the official campaign for the UK to leave the European Union, argued that the UK should not have to seek verification of a domestic benefits policy by the European institutions and many backed the court’s decision.
On the other hand, many people believe that the UK government should be doing all that they can to help the migrants who come to the UK.
It is estimated that in the year ending 2015, total net migration to the UK was 330,000.
Europe is in the midst of a migration crisis. In 2015, over 350,000 Syrian nationals applied for refuge in the EU. The numbers seeking refugee status from Syria were almost double that of any other nation. The war in Syria is the main driving force behind this as people risk all to make the other life threatening journey to Europe.
Children and mothers with young babies are of particular concern. Many children travel alone and international aid organisations are worried about the safety and well being of these children once they reach Europe.
For this reason, many believe that the UK should be allowing more migrant children to come to the UK. Many people also believe that the UK should help to ensure the well being of economically inactive EU national families by allowing them to claim benefits.
Child Rights Net brings you the latest legal news and updates on how children’s rights are being protected in law across the world. We also provide commentary on women and mother’s rights.
All human rights apply to children as they would to adults, but special legislation has been created to protect the rights of children. The foundation stone of children’s rights throughout the world is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is also known as the UNCRC. This is an international charter that sets out the human rights that every child must have protected in law. To date, 194 countries have signed up to the UNCRC, making it one of the most ratified conventions in the world.
There are many organisations which work to facilitate the rights set out in the UNCRC. These include governmental organisations such as UNICEF and NGOs such as Save the Children and Child Rights International Network (CRIN). These bodies work to promote children’s rights, research the application of children’s rights and improve the living conditions of children and mothers throughout the world.
We will be bringing you news and updates on the work of these organisations and on how children and mothers’ rights are being applied in countries throughout the world.