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Proposed changes to the Children’s Act 2001 are unnecessary
- 6 April 2006
- Type: Press Release
Full Implementation of Children’s Act would make proposed changes in legislation unnecessary – Ombudsman for Children
Logan outlines concerns about ASBOs in advice to Government
Proposed changes to the Children’s Act 2001 are unnecessary and in some cases may be counterproductive, according to Emily Logan, Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children. Implementing the Act in its entirety would prevent the need for additional legislative measures, Emily added.
The Ombudsman for Children, today (Thursday), published her advice to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister for Children on the proposed changes to the Children Act, 2001 and outlined her concerns on areas such as ASBOs, the age of criminal responsibility, privacy and the Garda Diversion Programme. Emily Logan is concerned that some of these changes will have a negative impact on children and young people.
“My observations on the proposed changes to the Children’s Act focus on compliance by those proposals with Ireland’s international human rights obligations and the probable effect of the proposals on the lives of children.
“The Act as it stands, focuses on preventative measures and restorative justice mechanisms. It is the right approach and the one which best protects the rights of children and young people in conflict with the law, in line with Ireland’s legal obligations.
“I oppose the introduction of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. They are likely to create more problems than they solve and I question the need for them in the first place. The report on the Youth Justice Review, 2006, commissioned by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform points out that statistics relating to youth offending have remained stable over the last three years.
“A significant problem with the ASBO proposal is that children can be punished for the omissions or inability of their parents or guardians. This is contrary to Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland ratified in 1992.
“In the UK, ASBOs are recorded on a statistical basis without supporting data about children involved. This makes it practically impossible to understand the context or to critically evaluate the reasons ASBOs were issued in the first place. Should the Government choose to go ahead with ASBOs, I would urge them to closely monitor the system; to review the children being issued with an ASBO, and to record their circumstances, to allow a proper evaluation of the process and not simply the recording of numbers.
“I am also unhappy with the changes relating to The Garda Diversion Programme. The programme is a success. It has diverted a large number of “at risk” children away from criminal behaviour. Currently, only children who accept responsibility for criminal behaviour can be admitted to the programme. It is now proposed that children as young as 10 years of age and children who admit to so called ‘anti-social behaviour’ be admitted to the programme. How will it be possible to provide a programme that caters for children involved in criminal activity together with those who have not been engaged in criminal activity? There are clearly risks associated with mixing children who have committed a criminal offence with those who have not.
“I was referred the proposed amendments by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform because my Office has a statutory mandate to offer advice to the Government on any matter relating to the rights and welfare of children, and in particular the child-proofing of legislation and its probable affects. The proposed amendments were also referred to the Irish Human Rights Commission which published its observations today. I fully support the views set out by the Commission in its observations and note that we have similar concerns about compliance by the proposed changes with Ireland’s human rights obligations.
Notes to Editors:
The Ombudsman for Children has a statutory mandate to offer advice to the Government on any matter relating to the rights and welfare of children, and in particular, to child-proof legislation under section 7(4) of the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002.
- 6 April 2006
- Type: Press Release