Govt’s lack of interest in child rights worries SPARC

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Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) has expressed concern over lack of interest of past and present Pakistani governments in improving the state of child rights in the country, which is evident from the fact that several bills regarding children’s rights are pending and there has been no follow-up on the concluding observations and recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Pakistan’s last periodic report.
According to a statement issued by SPARC on Wednesday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah or his cabinet on the occasion of the Universal Children’s Day neither issued any statement renewing the provincial government’s commitment to promote and protect children’s rights in light of Pakistan’s national and international obligations, nor did they share with the nation what steps have been taken by the provincial government in this regard, giving the impression that no one in Pakistan has taken the responsibility of protecting children’s rights.
SPARC has urged the Sindh government to expedite the process of enacting the legislation that embodies the rights of children and is pending either with the relevant departments or the law department for vetting.
The non-governmental organisation (NGO) doubts the legislation process based on the pending bills – including Sindh Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Against Children Bill, Sindh Free and Compulsory Education Bill, Child Protection (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill, Charter of Child Rights Bill, and Child Marriages Restraint (Amendment) Bill – most of which have been trickled down to the provinces after the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
Highlighting the role of Provincial Commission for Child Welfare & Development (PCCWD)-Sindh in the interim setting, SPARC Sindh Manager Suhail Abro said the commission still has relevance and mandate to deliver until the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act (SCPAA) is implemented in letter and spirit; but due to lack of commitment and devolution of the National Commission for Child Welfare & Development, the PCCWD-Sindh has stalled its activities; however, it should be made functional until the rules of SCPAA could be formed as well as the child protection units established and made functional.
SPARC urged the government to immediately enact all the bills pending in the Sindh Assembly and formulate the rules of SCPAA 2011 to protect children from abuse and exploitation.
The NGO asked the provincial government to immediately enact laws for implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution, according to which education has been made a fundamental right of children between the ages of five and 16, as it would be an effective preventive step to protect children from labour.
The provincial government was also requested to allocate funds for implementation of all national and provincial laws regarding the rights of children.
Photos courtesy SPARC