Min­is­ter in­forms NA of laws be­ing made for child rights

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

With the case of al­leged sex­ual abuse of chil­dren in Ka­sur dis­trict of Punjab mak­ing head­lines, the is­sue of suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments' fail­ure to ef­fec­tively leg­is­late for child pro­tec­tion has yet again come to the fore.

Dur­ing the on­go­ing ses­sion of the Na­tional Assem­bly, the house was pro­vided with a list of ini­tia­tives which are in the pipeline specif­i­cally to safe­guard the rights of chil­dren. At best, these mea­sures looked su­per­fi­cial and did not have any­thing that could be pre­sented as a way for­ward to ad­dress the abuse of child rights.

The in­for­ma­tion was placed be­fore the lower house of the par­lia­ment by fed­eral Min­ster for Law and Jus­tice Pervez Rashid, who is hold­ing the ad­di­tional charge of the min­istry, be­sides look­ing af­ter his prime re­spon­si­bil­ity of chief spokesper­son of the gov­ern­ment as in­for­ma­tion min­is­ter.

The most tan­gi­ble mea­sures, ac­cord­ing to writ­ten re­ply sub­mit­ted to the Na­tional Assem­bly by the min­is­ter, were the pre­sen­ta­tion of the two drafted bills for the es­tab­lish­ment of Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Child Rights, and Crim­i­nal Law (Amend­ment) Bill, 2015, for pro­tec­tion of child rights. The amend­ment in the crim­i­nal law deals with child sex­ual abuse and child pornog­ra­phy. The bills have been in­tro­duced in the Na­tional Assem­bly and re­ferred to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Law, Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights. More­over, the ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tem Bill, 2015, has been pre­pared to ad­dress the is­sue of ju­ve­nile delin­quency as well as vi­o­lence and of­fences against chil­dren, the min­is­ter said in his re­ply.

Asked as to why suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments had failed to ad­dress the is­sue of child rights, a for­mer PPP fed­eral min­is­ter and in­cum­bent MNA, Navid Qa­mar, who is also sit­ting on the law and jus­tice com­mit­tee, ac­cepted their (law­mak­ers) neg­li­gence. "Yes, such leg­is­la­tion must have been done long ago. The PPP has leg­is­lated on a num­ber of so­cial is­sues, but, I hope the present gov­ern­ment will now speed­ily ad­dress it."

Un­for­tu­nately, child rights have never been on the pri­or­ity of any gov­ern­ment, be it mil­i­taryled or demo­cratic, a se­nior mem­ber of the rul­ing party con­ceded.

The only ini­tia­tive the gov­ern­ment is un­der­tak­ing against the men­ace of child sex­ual abuse is at the re­gional level. "South Asia Fo­rum to end Vi­o­lence Against Chil­dren (SAIEVAC), an apex body of the Saarc, has been es­tab­lished to fo­cus on five the­matic ar­eas, i.e. child mar­riages, child labour, child traf­fick­ing, child sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion and cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment," the min­is­ter ex­plained in his re­sponse.

The min­is­ter said the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Child Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment-led ini­tia­tives (NCCWD) was work­ing for re­al­i­sa­tion of child rights. These in­cluded: A pro­ject, ti­tled "End­ing Vi­o­lence Against chil­dren in Pak­istan" with the sup­port of Saarc De­vel­op­ment Fund; A le­gal re­view has been in process to fa­cil­i­tate rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Op­tional Pro­to­col to the UNCRC on the In­volve­ment of Chil­dren in Armed Con­flict. More­over, the Na­tional Child Pro­tec­tion Cen­tre is pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary shel­ter to the home­less/street chil­dren, vic­tims of vi­o­lence and run­away chil­dren.

Train­ing on child rights and pro­tec­tion have been or­gan­ised for the public sec­tor stake­hold­ers at fed­eral and pro­vin­cial level, in­clud­ing Gil­gitBaltistan and AJ&K. More­over, Train­ing of Train­ers (ToT) has been or­gan­ised at the pro­vin­cial head­quar­ters for the public sec­tor stake­hold­ers and civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions. A na­tional cam­paign has been launched with the sup­port of Unicef to end cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment. In or­der to har­monise the ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem in con­form­ity with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, re­forms are be­ing un­der­taken. Ac­cord­ingly, con­sul­ta­tions with stake­hold­ers have been con­ducted.

Mean­while, Min­is­ter for In­for­ma­tion, Broad­cast­ing and Na­tional Her­itage Sen­a­tor Per­vaiz Rashid will in­au­gu­rate an ex­hi­bi­tion of rare pho­to­graphs from the life of the Quaid-eAzam Muham­mad Ali Jin­nah, Pak­istan Move­ment, Pak­istan Res­o­lu­tion and In­de­pen­dence Day at Lok Virsa Mu­seum Hall on Au­gust 13. The ex­hi­bi­tion is be­ing or­ga­nized by Di­rec­torate of Ele ctronic Media and Publi­ca­tions (DEMP) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Lok Virsa. The ex­hi­bi­tion is or­ga­nized ev­ery year to celebrate the In­de­pen­dence Day in a be­fit­ting man­ner and re­vive the spirit of 1947 In­de­pen­dence Day among the peo­ple of Pak­istan.

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