NGO in Pakistan pushes for commission for child rights

11/09/2011 - An NGO in Pakistan is fighing for a comission to protect the right's of children and ensure that the state lives up to it's international obligations.

The Child Rights Movement (CRM) in Pakistan, an alliance of 24 civil society organizations, has begun to lobby the Ministry of Human Rights to pass legislation to set up an independent commission for child welfare.

According to the CRM, the proposed National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD) is needed since there is currently no body at the federal government level responsible for ensuring the protection of the rights of children. They also stated that there was a lack of enforcement related to the responsibilities of the provinces to enact and facilitate compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The CRM demanded that the Commission be given the power to monitor and protect children’s rights across the country in order to ensure that the minimum standards these obligations entailed were met. They also envisied the commission having the power and mandate to advocate for children’s rights at the federal level, including when it came to ensuring adequate  child services are included in the government’s budget.

Although, as the CRM pointed out, children make up 50 percent of the population of Pakistan, a bill proposing an independent commission for children’s rights has been pending since 2009.

The speakers appreciated the recent decision taken by the Government to place the National Commission on the Status of Women in the Ministry of Human Rights. In light of this, the case for a comission for the rights of children is picking up momentum.

The CRM appealed to parliamentarians, especially members of the National Assembly’s parliamentarians’ group for children’s rights, the Senate, the National Assembly Standing Committees on Human Rights and speakers at the National Assembly to urge the government to enact the NCRC Bill and establish a central statutory body within the Ministry of Human Rights in order to honour its constitutional and international obligations.

A one-month plan of action was also discussed and approved to conduct extensive advocacy and lobbying including meetings with parliamentarians and concerned government officials, letters to the President and Prime Minister being sent by the civil society, Child Rights Committees and international partners, consultations with the media to mobilise the concerned government quarters to take steps for the establishment of the Commission.

Pakistan was the sixth country, and the first predominantly Muslim country, to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.