When protection trumps civil rights

The Child Rights Information Network has an interesting piece on children’s rights to freedom of expression (Article 13 of the UNCRC)

This sentence particularly caught my eye:

‘…arguments couched in child-protecting language have frequently been used as grounds for child rights violations.’

It’s called ‘Mornington Cresecent Syndrome': someone shouts ‘child protection’ and all sensible debate must immediately cease. It’s not only freedom of expresssion that is affected by this. It’s that entire corner of the UN Convention that deals with children’s civil rights including, of course, the Article 16 right to privacy.

Yes, protecting children from harm is important, but Convention rights have to be read as a whole. The UNCRC isn’t a salad bowl from which governments -or NGOs – can simply select what they believe to be important. And when protection rights obliterate other sections of the Convention, something has gone very wrong with the balance of proportionality.

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One Response to When protection trumps civil rights

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