Children’s rights: Tough UN criticism of Denmark
Denmark is not protecting children's rights well enough - both in general and regarding vulnerable groups of children. This was the message from UN Human Rights Council the 5th May when Denmark for the first time was examined in human rights.
“We should be ashamed about the criticism. Now, politicians simply have to take children's rights seriously," says Mimi Jakobsen, general secretary of Save the Children Denmark.
UN Human Rights Council has identified a large number of children who’s rights are violated in Denmark. This include children being sent to prison, asylum seeker children, children who experience violence and sexual assault - and unaccompanied refugee children. But the failure to ensure even children's basic rights under Danish laws are also sharply criticized:
"UN says clearly that Denmark should establish an Ombudsman for children and that we must incorporate the Convention on the Rights of the Children in all legislation in the future so that it is possible to specifically use the Convention on the Rights of the Children in courtrooms in Denmark. It is clear speech that is difficult to ignore, says Mimi Jakobsen.
A lot of the criticism and recommendations, Denmark has actually heard before - most recently by the UN Children's Committee in February:
"One can rightly wonder how we can ensure that Denmark takes the criticism seriously. But I think it will be difficult for Denmark to ignore the criticism now that the UN Children's Committee and the Human Rights Council concurrently say that something is wrong and come up with concrete recommendations," says Mimi Jakobsen.
Read the UN report on human rights in Denmark HERE.
HRC's most significant recommendations on children's issues:
• Raise the age of criminal responsibility.
• Stop the solitary confinement of children and adolescents.
• Family reunification rules should be improved to ensure that children can be united with their families.
• Act on unaccompanied refugee children should be revised so that it lives up to the obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Children (this includes the new Danish rules that unaccompanied refugee children can be sent out of the country when they become 18 years old, and the fact that Denmark is not examining the children before unaccompanied children are sent to reception centers in their country of origin).
• Stateless children should be guaranteed the right to citizenship.
• Asylum Children should not be sent to countries where they are in grave danger. Eg. Children must not be sent to Iraq.
• Children who experience violence and sexual assault should have better support (access to skilled care and rehabilitation - and uniform treatment throughout the country).
• Denmark should establish an ombudsman for children.
• The Convention on the Rights of the Children must be incorporated in all Danish legislation - so that all parts of Danish law take into account and enforce children's rights.