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Islamabad

July 22, 2017

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CRM lauds govt for enactment of laws related to child rights

CRM lauds govt for enactment of laws related to child rights

Islamabad: The Child Rights Movement (CRM) Pakistan, a coalition of more than 450 organisations and individual experts working for the promotion and protection of children, appreciated government particularly Human Rights Ministry and Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights for passing the protracting ICT Child Protection Bill of 2017 and Juvenile Justice System Act 2017.

CRM National Coordinator Ms Alishba said child rights is still an unfinished agenda in Pakistan and the country has to go a long way to ensure that each and every child in the country enjoys her/his rights in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan, the national laws and international obligations being party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and many other UN and International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions.

She added that that it is a key milestone in the history of child rights in the country and will play a critical role in putting the country on the right track for improving the state of child rights in Islamic Republic of Pakistan in light of its national and international obligations. Article 25 (3) of the Constitution empowers the Government for making special provisions for the protection of women and children said CRM’s press release.

Though children constitute almost fifty percent of the total population but still there is no body with a statutory status for the promotion and protection of their rights. It is worth appreciations that at least year 2017 is observing a movement in the child rights legislation which shows that government is sensitized on crucial nature of Child Rights. Still, substantial efforts need to be made.

Habiba Salman addressing the press conference said that CRM urges government to immediately notify rules of business for ICT Child Protection Bill, 2017 which will ensure its enforcement and effectiveness. She emphasized on the need for amendments in the   Employment of Children Act 1991 of Pakistan, terming it inappropriate and exploitative, that it does not prohibit but regulates child Employment therefore, CRM demands for appropriate Labour Laws which should also address Child Domestic Labour. Child domestic labour should be acknowledged as worst form of labour and modern slavery, as marked by ILO conventions. It only requires a notification by ILO secretary to include Child Domestic Labour under the hazardous form of Child Labour.

CEO UGOOD, Syed Ishtiaq Ul Hassan Gilani shared that the Bill of National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) was long pending since 2009 without any progress towards its enactment. Now when the government has enacted the NCRC bill, immediate steps should be taken to establish the commission as promised in the law. This commission under the NCRC Act would have the powers to monitor and protect children’s rights across the country in order to ensure minimum standards in light of our constitutional and international obligations and to advocate for policy and systemic improvements including those related to budgetary allocation said CRM.

Mamtaz Gohar said that CRM welcomes the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2017 and urges the government to notify its rules of business to ensure its effective implementation. Although the Corporal Punishment Act only covers corporal punishment in schools and educational settings, it must be extended in homes, and place of work as well. Pakistan is included among 50 State around the world where administration of a “reasonable” degree of violence is overlooked (even encouraged). Government should introduce interventions on positive fostering through constructive and communicative approaches as marked in UPR 2017 (Universal Periodic Review) report.

Farshad Iqbal, Manager Research at SPARC said that Juvenile Justice System Bill 2017 should be made public for raising awareness. It should be mandatory for police and judicial officers to determine the age of the person and exclusive juvenile courts should be established as per JJSO provisions. Borstal institutions should be established outside the premise of adult jails and probation officers and psychological counsellors should be appointed to deal with Juveniles demanded by CRM.  He added that after the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) it took 10 years to come up with the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, which was somewhat in compliance with Article 37 and Article 40 of UNCRC. The Juvenile Justice System Bill 2017 contains provisions which can help further improve the state of the juvenile justice system in the country. The emphasis of the law on disposal of cases through diversion and social integration of the juvenile offenders is a commendable step.

In order to improve the state of the juvenile justice system, a multifaceted strategy will have to be ensured by the government, including the implementation of the Juvenile Justice System Act itself in letter and spirit. Currently, there are barely any functional borstal institutions in the country, and the ones that exist lack the facilities to offer rehabilitation of juveniles. For example, in 2014 SPARC’s project team discovered that the Faisalabad Borstal Institute and Juvenile Jail did not have clean drinking water for detainees.

Many root causes leading to juvenile delinquency need to be addressed, such as by focusing poverty alleviation strategies to cater for the needs of the lowest quintile, in order to alleviate the circumstances that lead to extreme poverty, and consequent juvenile delinquency. This needs to be coupled with emphasis on improving access to quality education; which must also focus on social inclusiveness.

CRM Pakistan’s National Coordinator Ms. Alishba lauded the recent steps taken for the protection and rights of children in the country. She appreciated and acknowledged effective role of media in awareness raising and shaping public opinion.  Moreover, she said that indeed together we can ensure accountability and transparency in our national procedures and mechanism which will ensure a brighter future for all.

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