RCPCH responds to EHRC report ‘Children’s rights in Great Britain’

Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report to the United Nations raises a number of concerns on the health, wellbeing and living standards of children in England and Wales.
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This report looked at the state of children’s rights in Great Britain and identified priorities for the UNCRC to review. These are:

  • health and health services 
  • standard of living 
  • right to education
  • violence against children
  • administration of child justice.

RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon said:

As paediatricians, the rights and wellbeing of children and young people lie at the heart of all our work. This year’s EHRC report on children’s rights in Great Britain highlights that we have a lot of work to do to ensure the fundamental human rights of children are protected and upheld.  

The report paints a dark picture of children being forgotten and left behind, particularly in health, education, and justice settings. We have strong evidence that shows mental health in children and young people is deteriorating, with many unable to access the services they need. The number of children living in relative poverty across the UK has grown, reaching a 20-year high of 4.3 million in 2019/20, representing almost one-third of all children. We’re also seeing a rise in unequal education attainment, with a significant rise in children and young people missing school. These developments in wealthy countries such as England and Wales are unconscionable. 

Of huge concern are the recommendations that the report makes around the safeguarding of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children. RCPCH has regularly called for action in this regard. The specific concerns include ceasing the immigration detention of children and making suitable alternatives available and commit to not relocating children seeking asylum to Rwanda. Recently we have seen an outright failure of the Home Office to protect and care for child asylum seekers, with child asylum seekers going missing from their care. The duty of the Home Office goes beyond simply providing accommodation for these minors. The Home Office needs to do everything within their power to find these vulnerable children and ensure that all children and young people in their care are safe and well cared for. 

No child in Great Britain should have any doubt that their rights, enshrined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, will be upheld. It is shameful that this is even a question in our country. We strongly urge English and Welsh governments to consider and respond to the report’s recommendations, in particular those on asylum seeking and refugee children and those around poverty and child health inequalities needing to be addressed urgently. The UK must uphold its commitment to the rights of children.