Monday, 21 February 2011
Concern of Children's Commissioner on proposals to change legal aid.
Children’s Commissioner concerned ‘proposals will deprive children of the right to be heard in judicial and administrative proceedings’
Dr Maggie Atkinson’s response to legal aid proposals concentrates on education, immigration and private family law
Describing her response to the government's proposals on legal aid reform, Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England, said:
"My response to the consultation focused on the scope of what is proposed to be taken out of legal aid and highlights three areas of particular concern - education, immigration and private family law. Our concern is that the proposals will deprive children of the right to be heard in judicial and administrative proceedings affecting them either as litigants in their own right or through their parent's solicitors. The right of the child to be heard in such proceedings is established by Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"The proposals are therefore potentially devastating for some of the most vulnerable children in our society, those with special educational needs, children subject to deportation or removal or whose parent may be removed, unaccompanied children applying to remain, and children caught up in divorce proceedings or in the care system. I'm asking the Ministry of Justice to look again at these proposals from a child's perspective and to acknowledge that our international obligations require us to ensure that all children have access to justice."