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LLM Human Rights Clinic students present research findings to Scottish Government

Thu 23 April 2020


Despite the lockdown, students from the LLM Human Rights Clinic presented their research project findings to the Scottish Government on Tuesday, 21 April. The children's rights group project was one of two clinic projects completed this semester.

In conjunction with the clinic project partner Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights), the group of LLM students examined how the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has been used by courts throughout Scotland and the broader UK to decide cases affecting children since its ratification in 1991. Under the supervision of Juliet Harris (Together) and Dr Kasey McCall-Smith, the group also compared the use of the UNCRC to similar cases in foreign jurisdictions. The overarching aim was to demonstrate where gaps in existing law could be filled by the UNCRC to better promote and protect children's rights. 

The presentation delivered key findings from the individual research briefs and larger group report developed across the semester and focused on a child's right to be heard across a range of areas that affect them, including in family matters, law and policy development, and cross-border concerns - such as unaccompanied children in migration and abduction cases. In each area, the students analysed existing law and judicial opinions against the rights set out in the UNCRC. The presentation then offered insight as to how the outcome for children might have been improved if a holistic approach to using the UNCRC had been deployed. In each area covered the presenters offered recommendations about how to holistically implement the UNCRC for the judiciary, law and policy makers and practitioners, which are no doubt useful for the presentation audience, which included the head of the children's incorporation bill team and the members of the government's legal directorate assigned to bill's development. 

The ultimate aim of the project is to support Together's advocacy work around UNCRC incorporation, an issue that the First Minister has committed to achieving during this parliamentary session despite the Covid-19 crisis, and also to support the Scottish Government to have a comprehensive understanding about where current law can be improved as it develops its UNCRC incorporation bill.

The children's rights clinic group included: Ifeoluwa Asefon; Anna Blake; Boudicca Hawke; Sara Helgesson; Amelie Hoerndler; Emma Howell; Katie Salina; Emma Sullivan; Isabella Szabolcs; Marianiki Vlachou; and Giorgia Ziliani. The presentation to the Scottish Government was delivered by Ifeoluwa, Boudicca, Sara and Marianiki.