Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Children's Commissioner disagrees with the UN

A key focus of the Office of the Children's Commissioner is to advocate for Children’s Rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child upon the principle of the "best interests of the child".

Cindy Kiro should read this UN document out this month which explains the United Nation's approach to physical discipline. Kiro believes all forms of physical discipline constitute violence and abuse and should be outlawed, with perpetrators charged and convicted if the police so choose.

The problem for her is that the UN Commitees don't. The UN does not believe all parents who lightly physically dicipline their kids should be charged or convicted for assault.

Dr Kiro supported Sue Bradfords bill to repeal section 59 from the Crimes Act without amendment, which means she is happy for police to uphold the law and convict parents for light smacking. If she is not, then her submission to the select committee is flawed and illogical - PhD or no PhD.

But the bill as drafted actually breaches the interpretation of the United Nations Committee overseeing the Convention of the Rights of the Child because it allows for parents to be criminalised for administering light smacking.

According to the United Nations, it is not in the best interests of the child for their parents to have the potential to be prosecuted for lightly disciplining children. In addition, the UN states that removal of a child (such as in cases like the riding crop case) should only proceed when it is "necessary to protect the child from significant harm, and the childs views should be given weight"

And if this is disregarded, Cindi Kiro should step in.

She has never done so in any case where children have been taken away without determining a test of "significant harm". Kiro should either come clean with the truth or chuck her job in if she refuses to adhere to her UN masters.


Graeme Edgeler said...

Thanks for the link to the UN doc - were you referring to this section when you said the UN Committee disagreed with Kiro's belief that "all forms of physical discipline constitute violence...":

"In addition,
explicit prohibition of corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of
punishment, in their civil or criminal legislation, is required in order to make it absolutely
clear that it is as unlawful to hit or “smack” or “spank” a child as to do so to an adult, and
that the criminal law on assault does apply equally to such violence, regardless of whether
it is termed discipline or “reasonable correction”."

Further reading of the document suggests the UN would be right behind Bradford's view that the appropriate way to ensure loving parents don't fall foul of a s 59-less Crimes Act would be for the police not to prosecute (even though it's a crime):

"The de minimis principle – that the law does not concern itself with trivial matters – ensures that minor assaults between adults
only come to court in very exceptional circumstances; the same will be true of minor
assaults on children."

Dave said...

Graeme, although the UN and Kiro agree on what is "violence" (ie: even light smacking) Kiro is happy for parents to be crininals for smacking, whereas the UN (and now Bradford) is not.

So, no I wasn't saying that the UN and Kiro disagree on the statement that " all forms of physical discipline constitute violence".

In terms of the "de minimis principle" that is being repeated ly contravened in Sweden as we are shortly to find out