LAHORE: Provincial government has to create structures and institutions in addition to laws and procedures for realisation of children rights, said Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child’s (SPARC) National Manager, Iqbal Detho, adding that after the introduction of the 18th Amendment, it was now the responsibility of the provincial government to adopt and amend the laws related to human rights (child rights) before 30th June 2011.
However, without political commitment and vision, the procedure would go to waste and no one, especially the vulnerable segments of society, including children, would benefit from the provincial autonomy given by the 18th Amendment, he said.
He said this in a “political consultation” arranged by SPARC, titled “Post Provincial Responsibilities of 18th Amendment and Child Protection”, held in a local hotel on Tuesday.
Speakers at the conference said that the child rights situation in Punjab is deteriorating day by day. Child labour, child abuse and underage marriages are becoming common. Each day brings with it news of another murdered child, another sexually abused girl or of boys involved in drugs, they said. The one-day conference had been arranged by the SPARC, which was attended by renowned personalities, like IA Rehman from Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Justice Nasira Iqbal, Justice Dr Munir Mughal, MPA Semal Kamran, Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department Secretary Arshad Bin Ahmed, Reclamation and Probation Department Assistant Director Arshad Mehmood, Children’s Complains Office Punjab Ombudsman Ehsan Ghani, Peter Jacob from NCJP, other representatives of civil society organisations like WAR, SHARP, SAHIL, DCHD, Action Aid, PAHCHAAN, Child Protection and Welfare Bureau, Home Net Pakistan and several media persons.
Detho talked about a recent child trafficking racket that was uncovered, which involved handicapped children being trafficked to Iran by gangs and mafias.
“This is just one example, we have to think about all those cases of children being kidnapped or girls subjected to karo kari due to the unjust jirga systems and the children being subjected to corporal punishment that leaves them physically, emotionally and psychologically injured”, he said.
The UNCRC is still to be translated into local legislation to provide protection to the children from harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation, he said, adding that another area of concern is the non-implementation of the Punjab Primary compulsory education ordinance, which has been in place for years. Also, so far no survey has been conducted for ascertaining child labour in the non-formal sector nor has any legislation been done to this effect.
The 18th Constitutional Amendment passed by parliament on 15th April 2010 had received praise from many, Detho said. However, with regards to children rights, a debate ensues within the relevant ministries, departments and amongst other stakeholders as to whether the subject of child rights comes under federal or provincial control, he added.
Following the amendment, there is a good deal of confusion, particularly with reference to the legislative competency of parliament and existence of coordination mechanism, at national level on the subject of future of children rights.
On this occasion, IA Rehman gave some examples of the current laws that needed amendments, like Child Marriages Restraint Act, compulsory education and employment of children act, JJSO, etc.
Separately, PML-Q MPA Semal Kamran shared that after help from the SPARC, she had presented a draft of child protection bill in the Punjab Assembly (PA), but despite a passage of two years, the draft is still facing technicalities in the assembly.
She also said that she along with some other parliamentarians had passed a resolution regarding ban on child domestic labour. However, system complexities and general thinking approach of people is a big hurdle in this regard, she said.
Sparately, Reclamation and Probation Department Assistant Director, Arshad Mahmood, said that there is a need to strengthen the probation system.Daily times