LAHORE: Advocating the implementation of the country’s international human rights commitments, speakers at a conference on child rights on Wednesday urged the government to do more.
This demand was put forth in light of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations (UN) that is slated for 2016. The speakers specifically demanded conventions related to child rights to be ratified. “The state of human rights in the nation was reviewed after four years by member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 30th October, 2012. Pakistan was given a number of concrete recommendations for taking appropriate administrative, legislative and other measures to improve the situation of children’s rights then,” Children Advocacy Network (CAN) liaison officer Rashida Qureshi said. She said a number of countries had expressed reservations about Pakistan’s record of child rights in the last review. Qureshi said apart from international commitments, in light of incidents such as the Kasur child pornography scandal, it was imperative that the government took serious action. “The Government of the Punjab and other provincial governments have not formulated a child protection policy or any plan of action to prevent such incidents from taking place in the future,” she said.
Child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik said even though it had been over three years since the last review, the government had failed to ensure effective coordination between public departments. He said this was a major impediment with regard to the effective implementation of children’s rights. He called on the provincial government to devise a comprehensive plan of action that was supplemented by adequate human and financial resources to prevent children from all forms of abuse and exploitation. Mubarik also demanded the early enactment of the pending National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill without further ado.
Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) regional head Salman Abid bemoaned the absence of legislative action to curb child labour despite the widespread prevalence of violence against children hired as domestic helpers. “This is a modern form of slavery,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2016.