The Work of the Committee in 2007-08 - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Annex 2: Summary of human rights developments in 2007-08

Issue Positive developments Outstanding Concerns
ChildrenWithdrawal of the reservation to the UNCRC (with regard to asylum seeking children and separation of children from adults in detention centres)

Commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Introduction of a new asylum procedure (new asylum model (NAM) - each asylum seeker will have a named "case owner" who will be responsible for dealing with all aspects of their case from initial interview to final integration or removal)

Adoption of children's action plan (December 2007)

Smacking of children

General discrimination and social stigmatisation of Roma and Irish traveller children; migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, children (LGBT)

Children with disabilities continue to face barriers in the enjoyment of their rights guaranteed by the UNCRC, particularly the right to access health services, leisure and play

Widespread usage of ASBOs

Use of restraint against children in detention

Detention of asylum seeking children (as well as unaccompanied children)

Comparatively low age of criminal responsibility

Detention of juvenile offenders and asylum seeking children together with adults

Child deaths in custody

Youth Rehabilitation Orders (YRO) implemented by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008[77]

Lack of appropriate pupil right of withdrawal from collective worship and religious education in school

Counter-terrorism Proposals for 42 days detention without trial for suspected terrorists (Counter-Terrorism Bill) withdrawn by Government following defeat in the House of Lords Glorification of terrorism offence

Control orders regime

Continuing practice of stop and search without suspicion (s. 44 Terrorism Act 2000)

Equality and discrimination Pledge to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons

New offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation (Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, s. 13(1))

High rate of teenage pregnancy

Inadequate facilities and services for mental healthcare

Continuing violence, harassment and negative stereotyping of disabled persons

Inequalities with regard to the school achievement of children living with parents in economic hardship

Scope of exemptions to equality legislation relating to religious discrimination

Freedom of expression Development of a common law right to respect for private life

Abolition of blasphemy and blasphemous libel crimes

Libel law ("UK applies the law of libel to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest; it also adversely affects the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work, including through the phenomenon known as 'libel tourism'"[78])

Glorification of terrorism offence (s. 1 Terrorism Act 2006)

Constraints on protest around Parliament

Immigration and asylum Removal of the reservation to the UNCRC with regard to asylum seeking children

Pledge to incorporate EU Asylum Qualification Directive into domestic law

High Court judgment on Highly Skilled Migrants Programme

Detention of child asylum seekers

Policy of destitution in relation to failed asylum seekers

No progress on improving healthcare for asylum seekers

Media reporting of asylum issues

Judicial oversight of detention decisions

TortureEuropean Court judgment in the Saadi case, which reaffirmed absolute nature of Article 3 protection against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment Memorandum of understanding and deportation of terrorist suspects when Article 3 ECHR concerns exist

Allegations of torture in UK-run military detention facilities outside the UK

No designated national preventative mechanism (NPM) under the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)

Prolonged pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects in inappropriate facilities

Trafficking Pledge to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Human Trafficking (14 January 2008)

Update of national trafficking action plan (2008)

Closure of Metropolitan Police Team

Provision of victim support on the basis of co-operation with the authorities


Introduction of a gender equality duty for public authorities (2006)

New gender equality public service agreement;

Adoption of new law on Forced Marriages (Civil Protection Act, 2007, in force on 25 November 2008)

Under-representation of ethnic minority women in all areas of the labour market, particularly in senior or decision-making positions; high rates of unemployment and a greater pay gap in their hourly earnings compared to men

Under-representation of women of different ethnic minority communities in political and public life

Low level of female engagement in public affairs; as well as low representation in the judicial system

High maternal mortality in traveller communities

Situation of women in prisons (especially family visits and childcare arrangements) as well as detention of young female offenders with adult women

High number of women prisoners

Continuing incidence of domestic violence

77   Recommendations made by the JCHR in its Fifth Report of Session 2007-08 not accepted by the Government. Back

78   UN Human Rights Committee concluding observations (CCPR/C/GBR/CO/6), paragraph 25. Back

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Prepared 26 January 2009