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ASBOs undermine children's rights

29 June, 2004

Sinn Fein Human Rights Spokesperson, South Down MLA Catriona Ruane has expressed continued concern at the handling of ASBOs by the British NIO Minister John Spellar, after he laid the draft Order in Council before the British Parliament. Ms Ruane said:

"Despite widespread and vocal concern at the introduction and the handling of the ASBOs issue John Spellar has arrogantly continued with he approach.

"Sinn Fein share widespread concerns that ASBOs undermine children's rights as well as undermining key human rights and equality protections and legislative initiatives that flow the Good Friday Agreement. It contravenes domestic and international human and children's rights standards and best practice.

"The NIO has totally ignored one of the cornerstones of the GFA, the Equality Provisions of the NI Act 1998, designed to protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups including children.

"The proposed legislation fails totally to recognise the "particular circumstances" of the north. Children's rights organisations and advocates of children's rights are concerned that insufficient consideration has been given to the implications of the introduction of this legislation. From the consultation document it would also appear that the proposal is a direct "read across" from the English legislation without any consideration of the fact that we are a society emerging from conflict.

"Everyone agrees that anti-social behaviour is a problem. This is not the way to solve the problem. The experience of ASBOs in England is that it has failed. The approach of this draft legislation also undermines Community Restorative Justice programmes that attempt to deal with anti-social behaviour in a more long-term and holistic manner.

"Sinn Fein is concerned that given the ongoing negative experience of nationalists and nationalist youth in particular that greater powers given to PSNI and district councils will be abused. We all know the problems of the PSNI sectarian agenda and the reality that district councils had powers and responsibilities removed because of discriminatory practices. Not only are there huge concerns about the ability of councils to operate in a non sectarian manner but a genuine fear that this legislation will be used against young nationalists." ENDS

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