Update: Ireland ratifies UN complaints mechanism for children

Ireland has ratified the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes a quasi-judicial complaints mechanism for children and their advocates to the UN Committee’s on the Rights of the Child.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charlie Flanagan, signed and ratified the Protocol at the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York yesterday, 24 September 2014.

This follows a commitment last week by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, to ratify the Protocol.

Update: Ireland ratifies UN complaints mechanism for children

Understanding Children’s Rights: A Training Programme on Children’s Rights and Effective International Advocacy

Ireland will appear before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2015/2016 to report on its record for children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In advance of this examination, the Children’s Rights Alliance is providing an exciting opportunity to upskill on children’s rights and effective international advocacy.This training programme is the first of four key activities that we will undertake in advance of Ireland’s examination which includes: conducting a nationwide consultation, drafting a national parallel/shadow report, coordinating a children and young people’s report and advocating/leading a delegation before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

This two-day interactive training programme will take place on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 October 2014. The programme will cover:

  • Understanding childhood
  • Introduction to children’s rights
  • Exploring ways to make children and young people active agents in their rights
  • Enforcement of children’s rights in Ireland
  • Understanding the UN Human Rights Reporting Process and the workings of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • Writing impactful Parallel Reports and taking part in effective international advocacy

 

An array of expert speakers will provide interactive, engaging and practically-focussed sessions. Each participant will receive a full training pack and resources for each session. Speakers include:

  • Brian Barrington BL
  • Professor Dympna Devine, University College Dublin
  • Anne O’Donnell, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Participation, Play, Recreation and Culture
  • Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection
  • Dr. Liam Thornton, University College Dublin
  • Veronica Yates, Children’s Rights Information Network

 

Venue: Carmelite Centre, 56 Aungier Street, Dublin 2

Cost:    Children’s Rights Alliance members: €50; non-members: €100

Places: Places are limited and preference will be given to Children’s Rights Alliance members. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties will subsidise up to six places for those on limited incomes.

For more information and to book your place contact: Edel Quinn, Children’s Rights Alliance by phone at (01) 6629400 or by email at edel@childrensrights.ie.

This training programme is kindly co-sponsored by the UN Human Rights Council Legacy Project of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. For more information, visit www.rightsnow.ie and www.iccl.ie.

Understanding Children’s Rights: A Training Programme on Children’s Rights and Effective International Advocacy

Ireland to ratify complaints mechanism under UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On 17 September 2014, the new Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, announced that Ireland would sign and ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This will allow children and young people an international route by which to vindicate their rights where this has not been possible through state agencies or the courts at domestic level.

The Third Optional Protocol to the UNCRC establishes a communications procedure or, in effect, a complaints mechanism.  This is a quasi-judicial mechanism that allows children and their advocates (parents, guardians etc.) to submit a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a group of 18 international children’s rights experts. Complaints must relate to specific violations of rights under the UNCRC and its first two optional protocols, if ratified. Violations must be ongoing when the Protocol is ratified or occur after ratification in order to be admissible under the procedure.

Because the original text of the UNCRC did not include a communications procedure, a new Optional Protocol is required in order to facilitate its establishment. Ireland ratified similar communications procedures under Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1989 and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2000. In 2011, the State committed to ratifying the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which also establishes a complaints procedure. This has yet to happen.

As with other similar regional or international mechanisms, a complaint under the new mechanism can only be made after domestic remedies have been exhausted. In Ireland, there are, of course, a variety of existing legal and quasi-legal remedies open to children and families when their rights are violated such as taking a case through the courts, the Equality Tribunal or the Ombudsman for Children’s office.

Unlike complaints taken to the European Court of Human Rights, decisions by the Committee are non-binding on States. However, by ratifying the Optional Protocol, States commit themselves to follow the decisions and provide redress to victims. There is also provision for the facilitation of friendly settlements, if parties to the communication find an agreeable solution between them.

The Protocol provides for three separate procedures:

  •  The Individual Communications Procedure allows individuals, groups of children and their representatives to bring complaints in respect of alleged violations of rights under the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols.
  •  The Inquiry Procedure provides for any person or organisation to submit information to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child alleging grave or systematic children’s rights violations under the UNCRC by a State. If the Committee receives reliable information indicating that grave or systematic children’s rights violations have occurred, it can decide to conduct an inquiry. The inquiry procedure is an “opt-out” mechanism, meaning that States can chose not to be subject to the inquiry procedure when they ratify the Optional Protocol.
  • The Inter-State Communications Procedure allows the Committee to receive and consider communications from a State against another State that is not fulfilling its obligations under the UNCRC. The inter-state communications procedure is an optional mechanism and both States must have ratified the Optional Protocol in order for it to be invoked.

Complaints have been taken against Ireland under similar international complaints mechanisms, under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for example. In 1998, in the case of Kavanagh v Ireland, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland had breached the applicant’s rights under Article 26 of the Covenant (equality before the law). The Committee found that the State failed to provide him with a reasonable and objective justification for its denial of his right to a trial by jury by trying him before the Special Criminal Court. He was again before the Committee in 2002 claiming a violation under Article 2(3) of the Covenant for the State’s failure to provide him with an effective remedy but this was deemed inadmissible.

Ireland will be the twelfth State to ratify the Protocol after Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand. It entered into force on 14 April 2014 after its tenth ratification.

The UNCRC has two other Optional Protocols – First Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict was signed by Ireland on 7 September 2000 and ratified on 18 November 2002) and the Second Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography  was Signed by Ireland on 7 September 2000 but it has not yet been ratified.

Now that this commitment has been made, signature and ratification of the Optional Protocol should happen simultaneously and without delay, in order to open up this important new avenue of redress for children in Ireland who have been unable to receive an effective remedy at home as quickly as possible.

Ireland to ratify complaints mechanism under UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children's Rights Alliance UNCRC Film Project: Funding Appeal

We are delighted to welcome the following post by Edel Quinn. Edel  is a member of the Legal and Policy team at the Children’s Rights Alliance.  The Alliance is a coalition of over 100 organisations working to secure the rights of children in Ireland, by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It aims to improve the lives of all children under 18, through securing the necessary changes in Ireland’s laws, policies and services.Legal and Policy Officer with the Children’s Rights Alliance. You can read more about Edel and see her previous guest posts on the Contributors’ page.

The voice of the child is a fundamental principle of the UN Convention and in Ireland we are starting to tune in, and pay attention to the views of children and young people. To build on this beginning it is important to continue to give them a platform, and now is the time to give them their voice.

Working with a group of young people, Children’s Right Alliance has a plan to leverage this voice.  We have just launched an exciting new film project, spearheaded by a group of young people that will be premiered in early 2013.  This short film will explore the effects of Ireland’s 1992 ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, on its laws, policies, and services, as well as on children and young people themselves. This film will be a celebration of the UN Convention and our journey so far in securing its full implementation, here in Ireland. Continue reading “Children's Rights Alliance UNCRC Film Project: Funding Appeal”

Children's Rights Alliance UNCRC Film Project: Funding Appeal

Juvenile Justice, The 8th Amendment and The US Federal Courts

Jurist reports today that the ACLU is suing Michigan over life sentences for juveniles, alleging that such measures constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the Governor of Michigan, the Director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Chair of the Michigan Parole Board.

According to the ACLU press release,

The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights.

The ACLU highlights that Michigan law requires that children as young as 14 who are charged with certain felonies be tried as adults and, if convicted, Continue reading “Juvenile Justice, The 8th Amendment and The US Federal Courts”

Juvenile Justice, The 8th Amendment and The US Federal Courts