UK’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

March 2015

In advance of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child’s consideration of how the UK complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (during autumn 2015), the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a short report outlining areas of concern.

On children in armed conflict (the UK is a signatory to the Convention’s Optional Protocal on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict), the report states:

157. We also received a submission from Child Soldiers International concerning the failure of the UK Government to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding the UK’s compliance with the Optional Protocol to the UNCRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). Child Soldiers International is particularly concerned about the legally-binding obligations and terms of employment which accompany the recruitment of under-18s to the armed forces in the UK. It also notes that some soldiers under the age of 18 have also served overseas in conflict zones in contravention of OPAC.[170]

158. In addition, Child Soldiers International expressed concerns in its submission about detention of soldiers under the age of 18 in a military prison, namely the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) in Colchester. Under MCTC jurisdiction, 17 year old children can be placed with adults in contravention of Article 37(c) of the UNCRC and General Comment No. 10 (2007) of that Committee. It also raises issues concerning the terms of service for under-18s in the UK armed forces, and their rights of discharge[171]-all issues we had raised with the Government in our legislative scrutiny Report on the Armed Forces Bill in May 2011.[172]

Again, we hope that our successor committee will have an opportunity to scrutinise the issue of children serving in the armed forces in the light of the UN Committee’s concluding ovservations which will be delivered in 2016.

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