Today our office publishes our 2020/21 Annual Report.
It covers from April 2020 until the end of March 2021, so begins just after the UK was placed in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus caused not just a health emergency, but also a human rights emergency.
Children and young people’s rights to education, health, family life, play, and to gather with friends have all been impacted.
What have we done?
Our office focussed our attention on the immediate human rights concerns for children and young people, using our powers to respond to the emergency legislation and guidance that was being introduced.
We held the Scottish Government and bodies like the Scottish Qualifications Authority to account when they did not uphold children’s rights.
We commissioned an independent children’s rights impact assessment by the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland to evaluate what the new law and policy responses to Covid-19 meant for children’s rights.
We joined the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Schooling During Covid-19. We chaired the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children.
Involving children and young people
As always, we put children and young people at the heart of our work and ensured their voices were listened to. We continued to support young human rights defenders to hold decision-makers at every level to account.
From giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, to addressing the UN, and delivering lectures, we supported our Young Advisers to make sure their voices were heard.
We recruited three new groups of Young Advisers and said goodbye and thank you to our out-going group.
Our work outwith the pandemic
The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law but the Bill must be amended after a Supreme Court judgment. We remain committed to ensuring this happens as quickly as possible.
We, along with the other UK Children’s Commissioners, reported to the UN on how well the UK and Scottish governments are protecting promoting and fulfilling children’s rights.
We published a report on the rights of children in conflict with the law, used our powers of strategic litigation, and raised concerns about children deprived of liberty.
Our Advice and Investigations team continued working on our Secure Investigation, and launched it in June.
Read our 2020/21 Annual Report.
We also produce a report each year for children and young people.