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UNICEF applauds UK Commitment to protecting rights of immigrant children and those in the justice system

NEW YORK, 22 September 2008 - UNICEF applauds the decision by the British government to grant children seeking asylum, migrant children, and those who have been trafficked into the UK the same rights as British children, including their right to education, health care and social services. The government also removed its reservation to article 37(c) on children in custody.

The move, made over the weekend, signals the government’s full commitment to supporting children’s rights as laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  The decision paves the way for vulnerable children who are subject to immigration control to enjoy the fundamental human rights spelled out in the Convention for every child, and to ensure that children who find themselves in trouble with the law are kept separate from adult prisoners.

At the same time, the British government also announced its intention to sign the CRC’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, further strengthening the government’s support of the most vulnerable children within its borders and beyond.

An international human rights treaty that applies to all children and young people under the age of 18, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the world's most widely ratified international human rights treaty, giving children a host of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights which State Parties to the Convention are expected to implement.

The UK Government ratified the CRC in 1991, but maintained two general reservations, including the one related to immigration and citizenship. However, the government has taken steps recently to ensure that systems are in place to ensure all children within the UK have access to education, health care and social services while going through immigration processes regardless of the final outcome. The reversal follows a six-month review of the general reservation on immigration and citizenship to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The government also withdrew its reservation on children in custody after working to ensure that separate facilities were available to house children in the justice system.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact;

Geoffrey Keele, Communication Officer, UNICEF, (Tel.) 212-326-7583
(Email) gkeele@unicef.org




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