ISLAMABAD, Oct 9: The Child Rights Movement (CRM) on Tuesday launched a letter campaign to get various child rights bills, lying in the Parliament, passed by its members.  

According to a statement issued by CRM, Child Protection (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2009, the National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill 2009, the Charter of Child Rights Bill 2009, the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment, the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2009, National Immunisation Bill 2009 and the ICT Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2012 are pending in the Parliament.

CRM will send 1,000 letters, written by various segments of the society including NGOs, civil society and academia, to the parliamentarians seeking passage of the bills.

CRM coordinator Meena Gabeena said her organisation appreciated the commitment made by the government to promote and protect the rights of children, but the commitments had to be implemented. “Education should be made a fundamental right for children aged between five and sixteen,” she added.

She said unlike women’s rights, a number of child rights bills were pending at various levels of the National Assembly.

“There is no focal body to monitor the implementation of the child rights standards in Pakistan, which, being a part of he United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), is our constitutional and international obligation,” she said.

“Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment in which child rights were made a provincial subject, the establishment of a body for maintaining minimum standards and providing technical assistance becomes pivotal. It is sad to note that the bill of NCRC is pending since 2009 without any progress towards its enactment,” she said. CRM urged the government to make child rights legislation a top priority so that children could have a bright future in a child-friendly Pakistan. Human rights activist Tahira Abdullah said children seem to be low on priority of the government, because of which bills regarding child rights were still pending.

“The attack on Malala Yousafzai on Tuesday is a case in point. Our young heroes are in danger and should be protected. The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and armed forces are answerable because both claimed that Malakand Agency was clear of terrorists,” she said.

Former General Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association Riasat Ali Azad said all bills pending in the National Assembly demanded similar legislations including the protection against torture and child labour. He said the parliamentarians demanded the right of education for children but bills pertaining to the issue submitted between 2009 and 2012 were not passed. —A Reporter