Children’s rights are protected under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC), irrespective of where they live, where they were born or who their parents are. Doughty Street Chambers, during the past 25 years, has worked to bring about changes to ensure that children are protected from harm and their rights are protected without discrimination. We continue to carry out training in child rights in Nigeria in partnership with UNICEF.
Many of our cases have sought to protect children in the most vulnerable situations, including in the criminal justice system (Venables v UK; R (Howard League for Penal Reform) v SSHD; Re C; R (HH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department) or where they lack support and need looking after as children (R (S) v Sutton LBC; R (G) v Southwark LBC; R(O)); R (A) v Croydon LBC; R (B) v Merton).
We have acted in cases to protect the rights of children whose parents have been imprisoned, for example by requiring decisions enabling contact with their mothers outside of prison to be taken in accordance with their and their mothers’ rights under Article 8 (the right to private and family life), which necessitated the best interests of the children to be the primary consideration (R (MP & P) v Secretary of State for Justice).
We have also established mechanisms in other countries to protect children, including UNICEF’s Child Protection Networks in Nigeria and Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission. In 2014, we advised the Parliamentarians in both Houses of Parliament on groundbreaking new civil protection orders to prevent the travel of children and women at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (HL Deb, 5 November 2014, c1633).
Members of chambers have been instrumental in the development of the law relating to historic child abuse, for example in the case of AB and others v Nugent Care Society concerning the physical and sexual abuse of boys in several children’s homes during the 1970s and 1980s by staff employed by a Catholic social welfare organization; and in the abuse cases in Rotherham and elsewhere. Members are currently acting in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales, the ‘Goddard Inquiry’.
For more information about Doughty Street’s work in this area please see our children’s rights page.