Q:
When can’t the Commissioner investigate an issue?
A:

The law says that the Commissioner can’t investigate a case if:

  • it relates to matters reserved to the UK Government,
  • it concerns the decision-making of a court or tribunal in a particular case, or
  • it concerns a case currently before a court or tribunal.

The Commissioner also can’t investigate an issue if another body in Scotland is able to investigate it. Some other organisations who can investigate issues are:

Q:
What does the Commissioner have the power to investigate?
A:

The law that lays out the Commissioner’s powers says they can investigate enquiries around if service providers have failed to:

  • uphold the rights, interests and views of individual children and young people when taking actions or making decisions that affect them, or
  • uphold the rights, interests and views of a group of children and young people when taking actions or making decisions that affect them.

There are limits to this power of investigation.

Q:
What is due process?
A:

Due process means that a country has to respect all the legal rights it owes to a person.

For example, if a person is to lose their liberty, that should only happen after a process where standard laws and procedures are followed.

Q:
What is the Commissioner’s power of investigation?
A:

The Commissioner has the legal power to investigate in some cases where he thinks rights promises to children and young people aren’t being kept in Scotland. It’s a way that our office can hold people in power to account and demand they make changes when they’re failing to follow the law around children’s human rights.

Q:
What does Article 24 of the UNCRC say about health services for young people?
A:

Article 24 of the UNCRC says that people should know about the health services they have access to. They should get information about physical and mental health, and they should know about the services they can use if they have difficulties with either.

Young people have the right to get information about their health in private, without a parent or guardian’s knowledge. While as a child it might have been in their best interests for a parent or guardian to make decisions about their health, young people should be able to choose which services they need.

Q:
What should happen when someone uses violence against a child or young person?
A:

Article 19 of the UNCRC says that if someone uses violence against a child or young person, it’s never acceptable or justifiable. It should be possible for them to report a violent act in a safe and confidential way, and reports made by young people should be investigated by the authorities.

It should be possible for a person who commits an act of violence against a child or young person to be taken to court. When this happens, the child or young person who the act was committed against shouldn’t be discriminated against because someone has been violent towards them, or because they’ve spoken up about it.

A:

If you believe you may have been discriminated against the  Equality Advisory Support Service provides advice and assistance on equality and human rights legislation and how it may relate to you.

Q:
What should Scotland and the UK do to protect children and young people from violence?
A:

Under Article 19 of the UNCRC, Scotland and the UK should help make sure that people aren’t violent towards children and young people and should also take steps to make sure children and young people don’t feel like self-harming or committing suicide. In addition, we should make people aware of how common violence against children and young people is, and which children or young people may be at risk of it.

Q:
What does the UNCRC mean by violence?
A:

The UNCRC considers violence to happen when someone attacks a person’s mental state as well as when they attack a person’s body. Because of this, verbal abuse and intimidation are both considered to be forms of violence.

As well as being protected from violence, Article 19 of the UNCRC says that children and young people should be kept safe from:

  • all forms of exploitation,
  • sexual abuse,
  • neglect,
  • exposure to accidents, and
  • violent images.
Q:
Are there restrictions on freedom of expression?
A:

There are some limits to freedom of expression. These aren’t just in place for children and young people— the limits set out in Article 13 of the UNCRC are the same as those placed on the expression of adults.

  • People can’t express themselves in a way that would harm the rights or reputations of others. For example, they don’t have the right to reveal private information about someone, or to say things about a person that aren’t true.
  • People can’t express themselves in a way that would threaten the safety of others. For example, they can’t tell people there’s a fire in a crowded building when there isn’t.
  • People can’t express themselves in a way that would hurt members of their community.
Q:
How can Article 12 be put into practice?
A:

Article 12 should be taken into account when governments pass laws. New laws should take into account the right of children and young people to have opinions in any and all areas of their lives.

As well as this, one of the Commissioner’s jobs is to make sure children and young people can have their voices heard.

He does this by:

  • telling children and young people about Article 12 and the rights that it gives them
  • telling adults to think about article 12
  • finding out what stops children and young people from having a say, and thinking about how things can be changed.

Our 7 Golden Rules resource is designed to help adults get better at working with children and young people and listening to them.

Q:
Are there limits to freedom of association?
A:

While Article 15 of the UNCRC promotes freedom of association, it does say there are some circumstances where it doesn’t apply. For example:

  • children and young people can’t meet with individuals or groups when they threaten their rights. For example, they can’t meet people who are likely to pose a danger to them.
  • children and young people can’t meet with individuals or groups when they would threaten other people’s rights.
  • children and young people can’t meet with individuals or groups in order to break the law.
Q:
Does Article 12 of the UNCRC apply to everyone under 18?
A:

Yes.

The opinion of a child and young person should be considered everywhere, including in their home, in their workplace and at school. This is true no matter how young that person is, although the weight their opinion is given should change as they grow older or become more mature.

Article 12 applies to everyone, and care should be taken to make sure it can be exercised by everyone in reality. For example:

  • special materials should be produced for children and young people with disabilities if they need these to make their views heard,
  • special consideration should be given to children and young people in vulnerable situations, such as those in care or refugees,
  • care should be taken to make sure the opinions of girls are respected just as much as those of boys.
Q:
What is abduction?
A:

A child is abducted when these two things are true:

  • they’ve been removed from the place where they legally live or are being kept somewhere and unable to return there.
  • the people who’ve done this haven’t been authorised to do so or have broken the law by doing it.

Article 11 and Article 35 of the UNCRC both say that children should be protected from abduction.

Q:
What does it mean for adults to think about the best interests of children and young people?
A:
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When adults who know a child or young person think about that person’s best interests, they should:

  • think about what’s best for them in their day to day lives,
  • make sure they are protected and cared for.

When adults in positions of power think about children and young people’s best interests, they should:

  • think about what’s best for children and young people in their day to day lives when making laws,
  • make sure children and young people are protected and cared for,
  • make sure that groups who protect and care for children and young people are good at what they do.

Article 3 of the UNCRC is about children and young people’s best interests.

Q:
What are direct and indirect discrimination?
A:

Direct discrimination happens when a person is treated differently because of the way they are.

For example, it happens if someone doesn’t get a job because of their disability or isn’t treated equally because of their race.

Indirect discrimination happens when something applies to everyone in the same way but affects some people unfairly.

For example, if everyone had to climb up a flight of stairs to get to an after school club, this would discriminate against children who couldn’t do that because of disability.

A:

If you believe you may have been discriminated against the  Equality Advisory Support Service provides advice and assistance on equality and human rights legislation and how it may relate to you.

Q:
What is a judicial review?
A:

A judicial review happens when judges examine if a public body has followed the law when it made a certain decision. If the judges find that it didn’t, they can make that public body take a different decision instead.

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