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STUC 2008



Human rights of every child must be respected

by John Stevenson

Kate Ramsden
Kate Ramsden

The rights of all children must be respected and they must be protected from child labour, prostitution and exploitation, demanded the STUC Congress in a call for effective legislation and support for trade unions campaigning for these rights.

Supporting a motion from a teaching union and the STUC Black Members, UNISON's Kate Ramsden called on the General Council to bring together all interested parties in Scotland to co-ordinate a campaign for the proper protection from abuse and exploitation for all children in this country.

Quoting Gordon Brown's speech earlier, Kate said, "The Prime Minister today quoted Martin Luther King as saying the American Constitution was a promissory note to black Americans. Well, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a promissory note to all our children. "

"Pressure must be brought to bear on the UK Government to lift its reservation on Article 22 of the UN Convention to ensure that all the rights in the convention can apply equally to refugee and asylum seeker children, including those trafficked."

For some time now, UNISON had been campaigning on the principle that our progressive child care legislation, which states that the welfare of the child is paramount, should apply to all children, regardless of their immigration status.

"This has been accepted by the Scottish Government and we now need to campaign to ensure that it informs the action taken by the immigration authorities to support and protect displaced children", argued Kate.

The Home Office itself had admitted that many unaccompanied asylum seeker children will have been trafficked into this country and face abuse and exploitation.

"It is surely one of the greatest disgraces of our modern society that the cruel and inhumane exploitation of women and children through trafficking is allowed to go on", said Kate.

Even when these children come to the attention of the authorities and are placed in care they remain vulnerable.

"Government figures show that 183 out of 330 suspected child trafficking victims went missing form care in an 18 month period" explained Kate.

Trafficked children will have experienced abuse, including both sexual and physical abuse, and are vulnerable to further exploitation.

Kate added, "It is a national disgrace that the UK government continues to prioritise immigration concerns over child protection and UNISON has been campaigning for some time now for the reservation to be lifted and for the welfare principle to apply to all children."


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