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Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission warns more must be done to protect children’s rights

02 Feb 2023

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has published its report to the United Nations as part of their work in monitoring the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In the report the Commission makes over 80 recommendations to better ensure the protection of children’s rights in Northern Ireland and has particular concerns around the impact of child poverty, education, health and social care, and the youth justice system. NIHRC has advised the UNCRC to consider making recommendations to:

  • ensure that comprehensive strategies and action plans are implemented in NI for the eradication of child poverty;
  • ensure that all children with special educational needs in NI are promptly and comprehensively assessed and provided with the appropriate support;
  • take urgent steps to ensure that children’s social care services in NI meet demand and address the full range of complex needs, as they arise;
  • take effective measures to ensure that ring-fenced regional mental health care budgets that effectively satisfy need are available in NI and:
  • ensure prompt measures are taken to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years of age in NI.

Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said:

‘Our report to the UN shows a number of concerns that are having a damaging effect on children, young people and their families. This has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living. The lack of devolved government is likely to exacerbate the concerns we have highlighted. The longer the status quo continues, the issues that need addressed are expanding and becoming more difficult to remedy.

Similarly, the UK Government’s proposed Bill of Rights Bill threatens to weaken the UK’s human rights framework by seeking to create a hierarchy of rights and protections. It also seeks to restrict access to domestic courts, contrary to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. This will affect everyone in the UK, including children and young people.’


Note to Editor

You can download the full report here: Publication - Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Parallel Report to the Pre-Session on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Reports of the UK of Great Britain and NI | Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (

The Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors and reports on the implementation on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. More information on the Convention here.

In producing this report, NIHRC officials conducted a number of stakeholder engagement meetings with Northern Ireland civil society organisations and government officials.

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