Ministry fails to get laws approved

ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education, this year too observed the 'World Day Against Child Labour without any compressive legislation to provide protection to millions of children involved in worst forms of child labour in the country. Despite extensive efforts of many years to get the much-awaited Child Protection Bill and Policy approved, the Ministry had failed to come up with these important pieces of legalisation. Neither the Ministry could get the both pieces of legalisation approved nor it established 26 child protection centres. It took almost two years to complete both the Child Protection Policy and Child Protection Bill. With having both the bill and policy at hand, the Ministry was considering to move both pieces of legislation simultaneously for approval. After getting the approval, the National Child Protection Policy will be extended all over the country whereas the Child Protection Bill will be implemented only in Islamabad Capital Territory. According to an official, the initiative on National Child Protection Policy was taken in 2006 on the directives of the then prime minter. As at that time the Ministry had also failed to get the Child Protection Bill approved. Later, the Ministry was asked to formulate first its own comprehensive child protection policy and then to come up with a child protection bill. The policy aims at strengthening the institutional capacities of governmental authorities at national, provincial and local levels and making coherent reforms of legal and administrative framework, he added. As for as, the Child Protection Bill is concerned, it will handle all issues related to child protection such as institutional support, family rehabilitation and awareness. The Bill also aimed at establishing centres on district level on the pattern of National Child Protection Centre Islamabad, he added. The centres would rescue and recover children suffering from violence and abuse. It also seeks their rehabilitation and aims at reintegrating them in the mainstream society, he continued. According to the data available with the Ministry, approximately 35,000 children are living in the street in four major cities of Pakistan, making them vulnerable to violence, torture, sexual abuse and exploitation. And there are approximately 10 million child labourers in the country. The Child Labour Survey was conducted in 1996 by the Federal Bureau of Statistics for the Ministry of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis. According to it, 8.3 percent or 3.3 million of the 40 million children, 5-14, were economically active practically on a full-time basis. It may be mentioned here that Pakistan ratified the UN Convention on the rights of the child in 1990. Therefore, to implement its provisions by framing national policies, legislation, programmes, plans of action with the convention and report progress to the UN committee on the rights of the child, Geneva, after every five years is the obligation of Pakistan.

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