The right to protection from violence and exploitation is one of the most commonly-protected constitutional rights of children, being second only to the right to education in the frequency with which it features in national constitutions. For the most part, the legal framework for vindicating this right is set out at the level of ordinary legislation rather than in constitutional law; but some child protection cases find their way to constitutional courts. These include cases taken by national authorities against parents who are exercising parental rights in a manner detrimental to children; cases taken against national authorities for failing to adequately protect children from violence, or to protect the rights of child victims in the justice system; and cases where the constitutionality of child protection laws (eg on corporal punishment) is challenged. This presentation will survey a selection of cases from around the world, seeking to identify common themes and explore the added value of children’s constitutional rights in the arena of child protection.
About the speaker
Connor O’Mahony is a Professor at the University College Cork (Ireland). He is also the Director of the Child Law Clinic at the university, through which he works to support litigation concerning children and to advocate for law reform in the area of child law. Professor O’Mahony’s research interests lie broadly in the areas of constitutional law and child law, with a particular focus on family and children’s rights. From 2019 to 2022, he served as Special Rapporteur on Child Protection to the Government of Ireland, a role which included annually reporting on significant child protection developments.
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