LAHORE - Member National Commission for Child Rights Pakistan Rubina Feroz Bhatti, along with Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ejaz Alam Augustine, held a meeting with representatives of civil society, media, lawyers and school systems at New Minister Block on Saturday. 

A detailed discussion was held in the session regarding the children of Punjab province. 

Various suggestions were put forward by the participants regarding the rights of children, including inclusion of the Child Labour Act in the Children’s Act, improvement in the Workers’ Act, Establishment of helpline for access of common man, increase in number of labour inspectors across the Punjab, further improvement in coordination at district level, making birth registration mandatory, making smart cards in National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), establishment of observation rooms for children in police stations and police reforms regarding children. 

Director Human Rights Muhammad Yousuf, Columnist Zameer Afaq, Kamran Chaudhry from the UCA News, Nabila Feroze from Nia Daur, Chairman International Legal Affairs Osama Malik Advocate, Chairman Child Protection Committee Lahore Bar Waheed Ahmed Chaudhry, High Court lawyer Sumaira Shafiq, Miqdad Mehdi Advocate, Child Labor Front chief Mehr Safdar Ali and Nayab Ali spoke on behalf of transgender. 

Iftikhar Mubarak from Search for Justice, Shahid Rehmat from Youth Development Foundation, Shahnawaz from Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) and Dr Bela from Education and Awareness Institute attended the session. 

Rubina Feroz Bhatti assured the participants that all suggestions would be put in the agenda of the Commission as common agenda to secure the future of our children. 

She said that Pakistan was among the countries which signed and ratified the Child Rights Commission (CRC) for implementing it in accordance with Pakistan’s law and Islamic ideology. She added that the CRC provides a universal standard on the rights of children the world over. 

She said that Pakistan, being a signatory, was under obligation to develop a child protection system to ensure optimum child development and protection. She said that the PTI government wanted to take all stakeholders into confidence and move forward to secure children. Various working groups would be formed with the cooperation of all stakeholders so that everyone responsibly ensured protection of children’s rights in their own institutions, she concluded. 

Provincial Minister Ejaz Alam Augustine said that unfortunately, in the past, everyone talked about children’s rights but it was not given much importance while setting up task force in every district would be an important milestone.

He said: “I am going to visit Bahawalpur and Multan in connection with the Moham Ram and  Zain Qureshi cases to ensure the protection of children’s rights.” 

He said that cooperation of all departments concerned was needed for protection of human rights and prevention of human rights violations while the Punjab government was taking all possible steps to ensure protection of children’s rights across Punjab with the elimination of child labor. This was need of the hour to effectively build pressure on the relevant departments by involving children, civil society, media and other relevant stakeholders for improving the situation of children and fulfilling Pakistan’s national and international obligations, he added.