PAKISTAN: Universal Children Day- implement international obligations towards children’s rights

A Press Releasefrom Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day 2016, the Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan, a group of Child Rights activists reinforced their previous demands from Government of Pakistan for immediate enactment of “The National Commission on the Rights of Children bill” introduced in National Assembly back in March 2015 which is still pending with National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law & Justice.

Pakistan has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) 26 years ago, which is still looking for serious actions and attention both of federal and provincial governments to get implemented. CAN Pakistan urges that federal government to expedite the process of enactment of legislation that embodies the rights of children and for the setting up of an independent commission on the rights of children.

The Commission should 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. The Commission will comment on proposed new legislation at the earliest possible stage, or require the government to issue a child impact assessment to ensure that the legislation will comply with the best interests of the child, analyze existing government statistics on children in general and children at risk in particular, to identify gaps or the need for disaggregated data and where there is a lack of existing information about their lives, it shall produce data of its own through Commissioned research, or urge the government to undertake any necessary research.

“Such an action will reaffirm the commitment of the Government to fulfil its constitutional obligations and to the international standards on the Status of Human Rights Institutions expressed in the Paris Principles and its international obligations under the UNCRC”, said Rashida Qureshi, Program Coordinator of CAN Pakistan.

The Civil Society is also concerned that despite visible incidents of violence against children occurring, provincial governments still could not introduce child protection policies followed by a comprehensive plan of action to ensure the protection of children from all forms of abuse and exploitation, said Iftikhar Mubarik Child Rights Activist.

He stressed the newly pledged Sustainable Development Goals, especially 16.2, clearly asking governments to take all possible legislative, administrative and other measures to “End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children”.

In addition, SDG 8.7 also asks for immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.

Mr. Iftikhar has demanded that provincial governments must include the Child Domestic Labour in the list of hazardous occupation, and put a complete ban on this contemporary form of slavery.

Director Legal of CAN Pakistan Atif Adnan Khan, urged that provincial governments should also establish independent and empowered monitoring bodies to ensure the effective implementation of UNCRC is all four provinces. He appreciated the recently enacted “The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act 2016” and the promulgation of “The Punjab Restriction on Children’s Employment Ordinance 2016”, but he regretted that Children Rights organizations and groups were not consulted by government departments before enactment and the laws introduced recently are not in compliance with Pakistan’s international obligations, and some provisions even contradict constitutional and legal provisions already in place.

He also appreciated the enactment of “The Criminal Law (2nd Amendment) Act 2016” as well as The Balochistan Child Welfare & Protection Bill 2015”, and asked for provision of adequate financial and human resource to effectively implement all these laws.

Mr. Khan also regretted that after the passing of more than one year of the unearthing of the Kasur Child Sexual Exploitation scandal, still the Punjab Government has not finalized the plan of action to provide psycho-social support to the victims and their families as well as a concrete strategy to prevent such incidents in future, and to empower of children through Life Skills Based Education (LSBE).

CAN Pakistan also asked for ensuring the development of programmes and policies for the prevention, recovery and social reintegration of child victims, in accordance with the outcome documents adopted at the World Congresses against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. 

Allocation of resources to meet the international commitments is crucial and should be top priority of all provincial governments. The Committee on the Rights of Child in its concluding observation in 2016 refers to its Committee’s general comment No. 5 (2003) on General measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child and reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party effectively increase budgetary allocations for children particularly for groups of children who require social affirmative actions, inter alia, girls, refugee and internally displaced children, religious and ethnic minorities, children without parental care, children with disabilities, children in street situations, among others, in order to alleviate disparities and ensure equal enjoyment of all rights enshrined in the Convention throughout the country. The Committee encourages the State party to start budget tracking from a child-rights perspective, with a view to monitoring budget allocations for children, said CAN Pakistan.

Document Type : Forwarded Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-FPR-038-2016
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Child rights, Right to education,