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Law to require children’s rights to be considered

16 October 2023

The Minister for Children and Young People, Deputy Inna Gardiner, has today lodged a Commencement Act for the Children (Convention Rights) (Jersey) Law 2022.  The Minister for Children and Education is lodging the Commencement Act in line with her role as Minister, but policy responsibility in this area is delegated to Assistant Minister Deputy Louise Doublet.

The Children (Convention Rights) (Jersey) Law 2022 was agreed by the States Assembly in March 2022. However, it will only come into effect on 1 January 2024 if the Commencement Act is approved by the States Assembly when it is debated in November.

The enactment of the law follows a Proposition lodged by current Assistant Minister for Education, Deputy Louise Doublet, in response to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry.

The law sets out how Jersey will ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Jersey is already a signatory to the UNCRC, which means that it has agreed to ensure that children's rights are protected in law and in practice.

The law will require named duty-bearers (initially the Chief Minister, Ministers, Elected Members, and States Assembly bodies) to have due regard for children's rights when decisions are being made. In practice, this will mean that most propositions, new laws, and policies will need to include a Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA).

During 2024, this responsibility will be extended to other duty-bearers, including certain charities, arms-length bodies of the Government of Jersey and the Parishes.   

The CRIA process involves considering children's human rights, as set out in the UNCRC, and evaluating how they might be impacted by the proposed law, policy, or proposition. The views of children and young people will be taken into account, enabling the duty-bearers to show that they have considered how the law, policy or proposition will affect children.

Ensuring that children's voices are heard in matters that concern them was a recommendation of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry in 2017.

Assistant Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Louise Doublet (who has delegated responsibility for this area of policy) said: "Jersey is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and that means we have agreed to protect and defend children and young people's rights at every level of society, including at the highest levels of decision making.

"I am proud to see that – several years on from my original proposition - we are so close to seeing this law come into force.

"I'm also pleased that - over the last 18 months - several members have chosen to complete a CRIA when they have submitted propositions. These CRIAs are designed to make sure that children and young people are at heart of our decision-making processes, even at the highest level. This, in turn, will help us continue building a culture in Jersey that is protective of children, and ensure that we have truly learned our lessons following the Jersey Care Inquiry."

The Commencement Act will be available shortly via the States Assembly website.

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