29/11/2004

Study finds children's rights not protected

A new study has found that the government is failing to protect the rights of vulnerable children.

Revelations that the UK along with the US imprisons more children than any other countries reflect the ever growing problem of juvenile delinquency in Britain.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England has highlighted the government's failure to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A report from the Secretariat of the Children’s Rights Alliance verified that out of 78 recommendations issued to the UK in October 2002 under the terms of the Convention, progress has been made on a mere 17 of these during the past year. Despite the Prime Minister's pledge in 1999 to eradicate child poverty within 20 years, only 600,000 children have been taken out of poverty to date. Figures show that around 3.6 million children live in poverty today in Britain.

Among other facts included in the Children's Rights Alliance report are the death of two children in custody this year bringing the total number of child deaths in custody to 27 since 1990. Also, over the last year it was recorded that 3,337 children deemed too vulnerable for Prison Service custody were, nevertheless, sent to young offender institutions.

Children of asylum seekers, traveller children and young black people face continuing discrimination with 60 asylum-seeking children detained in June this year, a six-fold increase on December 2003. Asylum seeking parents are entitled to less benefits than other destitute parents and the report confirms they receive 30% less.

A Home Office spokeswoman defending the government's policies said: "Preventing offending as early as possible ensures that young people are able to play a full and active role in society as they develop into adulthood.

"Carefully chosen interventions are used by the courts to prevent and reduce reoffending and custody is used as a last resort."

In the latest ruling on asylum seeker applications to be introduced on December 1 it has emerged that failed applicants will all lose financial entitlements and more children could end up in care.

(mmcg/sp)

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