The Government was criticised on Tuesday for failing to make significant progress on children's rights recommendations issued by the United Nations in 2002. The criticism comes in a report by the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE), the largest children's rights coalition in the world with over 380 member organisations.
According to the report the UK imprisons more children than almost all European countries - around 3,000 at any one time. The report says that despite two children dying in restraint-related deaths in 2004, the Government extended restraint powers for secure training centre staff in July this year. Over the 2005-6 period, oxygen was used five times following restraint and handcuffs were used on children 44 times in two secure training centres, the report notes. The coalition states that in one prison this year, two children had their clothes cut off during a strip-search. CRAE says that asylum seeking families are given much fewer benefits and held in detention centres without any judicial oversight.
The report also highlights that although the UK is the fourth richest country in the world, over a third of the UK's children live in poverty and a child born into the best of circumstances can expect to live 13 years longer than the poorest child. In London alone, the lives of 41 babies would be saved each year were it not for socioeconomic inequalities.
Carolyne Willow, the CRAE national co-ordinator, said: "The UK signed up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. Ministers cannot pick and choose which children to protect or which rights to take action on. They are legally required to implement all aspects of the Convention, and morally bound to act on the UN Committee's recommendations".
A full copy of the report can be found on the CRAE website: www.crae.org.uk.