Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Every Child Matters As Long As It's Not An Asylum Seeker

The United Kingdom is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. All fair and nice cuddly politics. Now the UK has a general reservation against the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. That means the UK can ignore the Convention in pursuit of its border control and immigration targets. That strikes me as being wrong, unjust, unethical, immoral and just an all round bad thing.

The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture argues
The general reservation states that: "The United Kingdom reserves the right to apply such legislation, in so far as it relates to the entry into, stay in and departure from the UK of those who do not have the right under the law of the UK to enter and remain in the UK, and to the acquisition and possession of citizenship, as it may deem necessary from time to time."

The question is timely, 2008 being the year that the Committee on the Rights of the Child will scrutinise the UK's record of compliance with its Children's Convention obligations.

So how does the reservation affect child survivors of torture? According to the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), it "allows the UK to apply its immigration laws without having them interpreted in light of the UN Convention". In other words, it allows blanket discrimination against foreign national children in the interests of so called "effective immigration control".
So the UK government discriminates, in contravention of the Convention, against children who may be survivors, or witnesses, of torture just so that it can meet its immigration targets That is managerial target-setting entering the door and throwing ethics and morality out of the window. Such is the reign of managerialism in the UK in 2008.

As the Medical Foundation says
It is paramount to send a clear message that the UK finally recognises its full responsibilities by formally and publicly removing the reservation. An act which at least for children would be every bit as important as the coming in to force of the Human Rights Act 1998.

For Medical Foundation clients and all other children who have suffered serious harm, Article 39 of the Convention can then be demonstrably implemented to the fullest effect: "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child."
And, as the government keeps telling us, Every Child Matters. So, make it so.


The BBC is reporting that the UK government intends to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in full. About bloody time.

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