The government plans to table a draft of an autonomous commission on children’s rights in the National Assembly within six months.
A senior official of the Ministry of Human Rights said that a draft of the National Commission on the Rights of Children (NCRC) bill will be finalised soon.
He added that the government had long been considering the establishment of a commission to implement forceful legislation against crimes related to children.
The official further said that the government took the initiative following demands by civil society and NGOs working for children’s rights, keeping in view the increasing crime rate related to juveniles. Another factor, he added, was that even though children constitute almost 50 per cent of the country’s total population, there is still no body with a statutory status for the protection of their rights.
An official of the human rights ministry shared some important points of the tentative draft of the commission, saying it “shall have administrative and financial autonomy and exercise its independent judgment in all matters.”
On December 16, 1980, the government of Pakistan established the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD) through a resolution, which was amended from time to time till 1991; and in 1990, the government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Pakistan was among the prime movers of the World Summit for Children convened in 1990.
The NCCWDs acted as an advisory body to the government of Pakistan at a federal level for purposeful coordination, policy making, promotion of integrated planning and development and effective planning of policies and plans for welfare and development for normal and handicapped children in Pakistan. This body was then devolved.
Problems in implementation
Earlier, the Child Rights Movement (CRM) had demanded the government to immediately place the NCCWD under the human rights ministry and expedite the process of legislation for setting up an autonomous commission on children’s rights. An official of the CRM said that the reason behind Pakistan’s poor performance with reference to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is that successive federal governments have failed to introduce child-specific laws and policies, in light with international obligations.
Similarly, resource allocation, establishment of effective coordination mechanisms, training and sensitisation of professionals are also almost non-existent.
Functions of the commission
The Commission shall:
a) Act as a focal point for effective supervision and coordination of child rights at national and international levels, and co -ordinate with provincial governments
b) Develop a national policy and plan of action for promotion and protection of the rights of children
c) Review and propose amendments in the laws, propose new laws, and bring laws in conformity with relevant international instruments
d) Monitor the implementation of child-related national laws
e) Provide technical support
g) Monitor the violation of child rights
h) Develop integrated initiatives and coordinated plans in the areas of child rights
i) Mobilise financial resources, through national and international agencies
j) Ensure that recommendations made by the UN are implemented
k) Prepare annual report of its activities
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012.