UN report on children’s rights in the UK

On 3 October 2008, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published its report on the UK’s record in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report makes more than 120 recommendations, including recommendations covering the imprisonment of children and age of criminal responsibility, the rights of disabled children, the treatment of young asylum seekers and corporal punishment in schools.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England called for ‘the Government to take immediate action to remedy breaches in the Convention on the Rights of the Child’.

Click here for link to report

Click here for link to the Children’s Rights Alliance for England website

Click here for link to Guardian report on 4 October 2008

Committee report: ‘A Bill of Rights for the UK?’

On 10 August 2008, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights published its Twenty-ninth report on ‘A Bill of Rights for the UK?’.

The Committee recommends that strengthening the legal protection for the rights of vulnerable and marginalised people should be one of the principal purposes of any new Bill of Rights.

The report expresses ‘regret that there is not greater clarity in the Government’s reasons for embarking on this potentially ambitious course of drawing up a Bill of Rights. A number of the Government’s reasons appear to be concerned with correcting public misperceptions about the current regime of human rights protection. under the HRA. We do not think that this is in itself a good reason for adopting a Bill of Rights. As we have consistently said in previous Reports. the Government should seek proactively to counter public misperceptions about human rights rather than encourage them by treating them as if they were true’.

The Committee agrees that any UK Bill of Rights has to be “ECHR plus”. It cannot detract in any way from the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. But it should also be “HRA-plus”, that is. add to and build on the Human Rights Act (HRA) as the UK’s scheme of human rights protection. It is imperative that the HRA not be diluted in any way in the process of adopting a Bill of Rights.

The Committee is concerned that by making an explicit link between human rights and citizenship, the Government may foster the perception that non-citizens are not entitled to fundamental human rights. The Committee is strongly opposed to any UK Bill of Rights being called either a Bill of Rights and Duties or a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Rights should not be contingent on performing responsibilities. nor should a Bill of Rights impose enforceable duties on individuals or responsibilities which they are already required by the general law to discharge.

Click here for Volume I – Report together with formal minutes

Click here for Volume II – Oral and Written Evidence

Stonewall research: ‘Love thy neighbour’

Research by Stonewall published in 2008 suggests that many faith leaders inadequately reflect their followers’ religious objections to lesbian and gay sexuality.

‘Love thy neighbour’, based on interviews with Jewish, Muslim. Hindu and Christian participants from across the north of England, found that many hold significantly more moderate views of homosexuality than is often claimed on their behalf.

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Joseph Rowntree Foundation research: ‘Immigration and social cohesion in the UK’

In July 2008, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published ‘Immigration and Social Cohesion in the UK: The rhythms and realities of everyday life’ by Mary Hickman, Helen Crowley and Nick Mai.

The research shows that most people felt that social cohesion was about negotiating the right balance in expressing difference and unity in local areas, rather than expecting complete consensus on values and priorities. However, some majority ethnic long-term residents experienced government concerns with immigration as prioritising the interests of private business, while neglecting their specific needs. The researchers conclude that the limited opportunities and multiple deprivations of the long-term settled population in parts of UK towns and cities undermine social cohesion. To ensure cohesion, the impact of social and economic changes needs to be addressed as well as how people relate to each other.

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Report: ‘Talent not tokenism. The business benefits of workforce diversity’

In 2008, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, TUC and CBI published Talent not tokenism. The business benefits of workforce diversity.

The report demonstrates the potential rewards of diversity and argues that ‘promoting diversity in the workplace need not be expensive or time-consuming but it does require a commitment from the top to trigger a change in culture and attitude’.

Committee report on ‘Domestic Violence. Forced Marriage and ‘Honour’-Based Violence’

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee published its report on ‘Domestic Violence, Forced Marriage and “Honour”-Based Violence’ on 13 June 2008.

The report states that ‘a lack of standardised data, and what is judged to be significant under-reporting, make it difficult to make an accurate assessment of the numbers of individuals experiencing domestic violence’, while ‘understanding of the scale of so-called “honour”-based violence and forced marriage is even patchier’.

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Fawcett report: ‘Routes to power’

Fawcett published the final report of its ‘Routes to Power’ research study on ethnic minority women leaders in May 2008.

Funded by the Government Equalities Office, the study interviewed 23 of the most senior ethnic minority women in Britain including Baroness Amos (the first Black woman in the Cabinet and to lead the House of Lords), Irene Khan (the first woman, the first Asian and the first Muslim person to hold the position of Secretary General of Amnesty International), and Ruby Parmar (the only female Asian partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Findings revealed that organisations are still struggling to recognise and reward expertise when it is found in ethnic minority women.

Fawcett publication: ‘Seeing Double’

In March 2008, Fawcett published a collection of essays on the needs of ethnic minority women called ‘Seeing Double: race and gender in ethnic minority women’s lives’.

Edited by Zohra Moosa, Senior Policy Officer Race & Gender at Fawcett, the collection includes an exclusive interview with Dawn Butler MP on her experiences as one of only two black women MPs in Parliament. The collection also includes contributions from Hannana Siddiqui, Joint Coordinator of Southall Black Sisters, Linda Bellos, founder of Black History Month in the UK and Professor Heidi Safia Mirza, Director of the Centre for Rights, Equalities and Social Justice at the Institute of Education.

Click here for further information

EVAW report: ‘Making the Grade 2007’

Making the Grade 2007 from End Violence Against Women (EVAW) is the third annual assessment of what Government Departments are doing to tackle violence against women.

The report published in April 2008 suggests that whilst some departments, particularly the Crown Prosecution Service, are leading the way across Whitehall too many still fail to take this issue seriously.