Not a priority: Child protection bureau’s BoG hasn’t met since 2007

Chairperson says a summary has been sent to the CM to convene a meeting

Muhammad Shahzad August 21, 2016
The bureau claims to have rescued at least 17,000 children in the last three and a half year (statistics updated till August 4). PHOTO: CMS FACEBOOK PAGE

LAHORE: The provincial government has not called a meeting of the board of governors of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau since 2007, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The CPWB was established under the Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act of 2004 with a mandate to rescue and to take into protective custody destitute and neglected children and to make arrangements for their rehabilitation.

A senior officer of the bureau said that the government seemed to have woken up to the need for a functional bureau in view of the rumours about in increase in incidents of child kidnappings.

He said meetings were being held between government high ups and the bureau on almost every other day to discuss ways to improve and expand the bureau’s operations. There had not been such a meeting over the last decade, he said.

CPWB Chairperson Saba Sadiq said a summary had been sent to the chief minister requesting that a BoG meeting be convened as soon as possible. She said the home secretary had been responsible for the affairs of the bureau in the period when the BoG did not meet.

She said the bureau had not conducted any surveys to gather data on street children or to study trends.

On the presence of homeless children on streets despite the bureau’s operations, she said there was a need to control population growth to ensure that no children were left without care. She said the government was fulfilling its responsibility towards such children.

Sadiq said the bureau was working on a proposal to regulate non- government organisations dealing with rescue and rehabilitation of homeless children.

Destitute and neglected children

The Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act of 2004 categorises destitute and neglected children as those found not having a home or settled place of abode and an apparent means of subsistence; whose parents or guardian are found unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over them; who live in a brothel or with a prostitute or frequently visit any place used for the purpose of prostitution or found to associate with any prostitute or any other person who leads an immoral or depraved life; who are being abused or are likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or illegal purpose or unconscionable gain; are beyond parental control; have lost parents or one of the parents and have no adequate source of income; are a victim of an offence punishable under the law and whose parents or guardian are convicted or accused for the commission of such an offence.

BoG membership and powers

Under the law, the BoG includes the chief minister, the home secretary and secretaries of the Social Welfare and the Local Government Departments, three MPAs, two representatives of donor agencies, two professors each of sociology and psychology and six non-officials.

Among the tasks set aside for the board are the establishment of a fund and overseeing its use; establishment, management and recognition of child protection institutions, regulation of their affairs, purchase or acquisition of land if needed, supervision and prosecution of those accused of offences under the law, sale or disposal of assets of the bureau, and appointment of its staff.

17,000 children rescued 

The bureau claims to have rescued at least 17,000 children in the last three and a half year (statistics updated till August 4).

Of these, 9,000 were reunited with their parents, 97 of whom were residents of Sindh, 83 of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, five of Balochistan, 13 of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and eight of Afghanistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2016.


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