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UK IN BREACH OF UN CHILD RIGHT PACT?


LONDON, U.K. – UNICEF's UK branch said in a statement on Monday: "The UN convention on the rights of the child [CRC] is clear in article 37 that the detention of children should only happen as a last resort in criminal proceedings. The fact that 45 per cent of the children detained on charges of rioting and looting are completely unknown to the UK's criminal justice system is, therefore, very worrying.
  • UNICEF said official figures showed that 45 per cent of under-18s detained on charges of rioting and looting during the unrest had no previous criminal history.
  • The UN body described the UK judiciary's measure as "very worrying", which represented a possible breach of the 1989 UN convention on the rights of a child.
  • The UN children's fund has criticized Britain for jailing children allegedly involved in the August riots and warned ministers that they are likely to be in breach of their UN obligations to children's rights.
  • The UK ministry of justice figures show that more than 40 per cent of the 269 children who were arrested during the riots, still did not have their hearings completed by mid-September and were remanded in custody. This compares with an average remand rate of 10 per cent in 2010.
  • Of those on remand, 60 per cent had no previous convictions and 45 per cent had had no contact with the judicial system at all, including official reprimands or warnings.
  • The UNICEF statement said, "The riots are a concern and responsibility for us all. We urge those in charge of responding to the riots not to blame children's rights, but to respect them."
  • Unicef said without a full review it would not be able to determine whether the UK was in an official breach of the convention.
A ministry of justice spokesperson told the Guardian, a British newspaper, that "sentencing is a matter for the independent judiciary .When custody is used, it is generally as a last resort for the most serious or persistent young offenders where it is necessary to protect the public."
The spokesperson stated that new legislation was also underway to tackle the problem to restrict the use of remand for young unlikely to receive a custodial sentence if convicted.
Source: Al Jazeera
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