The topic for this blog will focus on a recent talk given by Rt. Hon. Sir James Munby, for the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People’s Annual Lecture, who are based in the School of Law here at Swansea University.
Unfortunately, I could not attend in person but have spoken to a few people who did attend and they have given me an overview. I also attended another talk given by the Observatory at a different conference so am aware of their achievements and the work that they are continuing to do.
Wales is quite unique as we have ‘the most advanced laws and policies on children and young people’s human rights in the UK‘. However the observatory advocates that their is still more progress to be made as there are many individuals including children and young people who are not aware of their rights and how to access them.
In the talk, the presenter; the Rt. Hon. James Munby, asserted that there are too many failings in the family court system and highlighted that children are quite often invisible and speechless in court. This is one of the issues that the Observatory are looking to overcome as they advocate the right for the child to be heard and express themselves.Not only this but the Observatory has recommended that children should physically participate in the courts, they should meet the judge, sit during proceedings and that child appropriate mediums should be made available to allow children to communicate.
The presenter reminded the audience that ‘Children, simply because they are children are vulnerable’ and therefore, we need to put appropriate measures in place to ensure that they are safeguarded and are not excluded from legal proceedings. Basically, when safe-guarding children, policies must not strip them of their voice and their right to be heard.
The presenter then concluded that there are also some training issues that need to be overcome. One of these is that English legal professionals are often unaware of the difference between English and Welsh legislation on children and young people.
Even though I was unable to attend the lecture, I found it very interesting to hear and read about the issues that the Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People are currently pursuing. I think it will be very interested to read about future developments that emerge from the on-going work.
Thank you for reading