Call for enactment of pending child rights bills
Islamabad: Calling for enactment of all pending bills and release of budgetary allocations, a group of civil society organisations has welcomed recent movement for enactment of pending child rights related legislation at the federal level, including the National Commission on the Rights of the Children (NCRC) Bill.
The Child Right Movement (CRM) Pakistan — a coalition of more than 200 civil society organisations working for the protection and promotion of child rights across Pakistan — has also appreciated the recently concluded consultative process by the ministry of law, justice and human rights and UNICEF for finalising the Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill 2015 and hoped that this bill will be placed before the National Assembly and enacted soon.
Addressing a press conference at Islamabad, CRM Pakistan’s Executive Committee members lauded ministry of law, justice and human rights’ steps towards the enactment of the long-awaited National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill.
The bill was forwarded to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights for review by the National Assembly in April 2015 after it was placed before the National Assembly.
The standing committee, however, could not review the bill in its meeting held on July 13, 2015 and it was deferred.
The CRM Pakistan representatives demanded to call the meeting of the standing committee on law, justice and human rights soon after Eid where the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill should be prioritised and forwarded to the National Assembly of Pakistan for enactment without any further delay.
The CRM Pakistan Coordinator Noor Ul Islam said that in Pakistan, over the years, legislation on child rights issues have gained less or no attention by the policymakers and one of the biggest reasons for this disparity is the absence of National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) to act as a central, independent and effective child rights body to ensure monitoring and implementation of the minimum child rights standards across the country, respond to the child rights violation cases effectively and immediately and put efforts for filling legislative gaps.
The bill on the NCRC has been pending since 2001, said Noor.
CRM Pakistan will continue to advocate for the enactment of this and various others child rights related bills and for the establishment of an independent commission to work for the promotion and protection of child rights in light of Pakistan’s constitutional and international obligations, being party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, added the representative of the CRM.
The CRM executive committee members also showed concern in delays about various pending bills at the national and provincial levels including the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, the Criminal Law (Child Protection) Amendment Bill, the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill, the Child Marriages Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the ICT Child Protection and Welfare Bill at the national level.
The CRM was also concerned at various bills which are pending at the provincial levels including Balochistan Child Protection and Welfare Bill, the KP Child Marriages Restraint Bill & the KP Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, the Punjab Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill and the Prohibition of Child Labour Bills in various provinces and urged the federal and provincial assemblies to prioritise child rights related legislation.
The CRM representatives said that legislation on child rights issues gained less or no attention of the Parliament at the federal level despite several commitments at the national and international level by the consecutive governments.
The UN committee on the rights of the child while considering Pakistan’s periodic reports in 2003 and 2009 repeatedly raised its concerns and recommended to enact pending legislation related to child right with no results so far.
The CRM Pakistan urged the government that besides enactment of all pending bills, budgetary allocations should be ensured.
The CRM Pakistan demanded of the federal government to focus on putting in place a strong child protection system at the Islamabad Capital Territory and Federally Administered Tribal Areas and for the purpose not only enact the long-awaited the ICT Child Protection and Welfare Bill but also allocate sufficient resources both for ICT and FATA.
It was also demanded that effective child protection system should be established in GB and AJK as well.
The previous National Assembly passed the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013 on its last day in session however, the Bill lapsed as it was not passed by the Senate of Pakistan and the National Assembly was dissolved.
Similarly, the Child Protection (Criminal Law) Amendment Bill 2013 was approved by the previous Cabinet in its last meeting without any further progress, shared members of the CRM Pakistan.
The CRM announced a sustained campaign for the enactment child rights related bills and urged the media and civil society of Pakistan for their support to convince the policymakers to endorse to enact the pending bills and make Pakistan a safer and protected place for children.
Though the ICT Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act was passed in 2012 by the both houses of the parliament yet the law is not enforceable in the ICT as rules have not been notified for the enforcement and implementation of the law in letter and spirit, the CRM representatives regretted.