Islamabad - Campaigners at a conference called upon the federal and provincial governments to ensure effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and priorities child rights on their agenda.

National Conference titled “25 Years of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child and the state of child rights in Pakistan” concluded here yesterday on the Universal Day of Children in Islamabad. People from relevant government departments, UN agencies, members of Child Rights Movement Pakistan and children’s representatives attended the conference. The conference was organised through a joint collaboration between the National Commission on Human Rights and the Child Rights Movement Pakistan.

The objective of this conference was to review the situation of implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Pakistan and mobilisation of key stakeholders.

The conference called upon the federal and provincial governments to ensure effective implementation of the UNCRC and priorities child rights on their agenda. It called upon the federal government to immediately enact the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, Criminal Law (Child Protection) Amendment Bill, the Child Marriages Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014, and the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill in the National Assembly by December 2015. The conference also called upon the federal and provincial governments to ensure resource allocation for children, for the effective implementation of child-specific laws.

In her opening remarks Ms. Valerie Khan Member Child Rights Movement Pakistan said that this year the Universal Children’s Day is being observed as the 25 year of Pakistan’s ratification of the UNCRC, which was a promise that Pakistan will put all efforts and resources together to ensure the all rights to its children as enshrined in the convention.

Pakistan is among the 6th country in the world and the first Muslim country to ratify the UNCRC. But today after over a decayed we still dwell in the bottom line of almost all indicators of wellbeing. Pakistan has 25 million out of school children, 12 million children involve in child labor and 400,000 children die before their 5th birthday from preventable diseases.

Safdar Raza, from Plan Pakistan, Member Child Rights Movement Pakistan expressed high concerns over the delayed and slow response to the child rights related bills in the national and provincial assemblies.

There are bills those require amendments and there are issues which require to have laws in place. He said that it has been almost a decade that no tangible move has been seen on the enactment of the pending bills. No department accept some specific department has any understanding of the ratification of UNCRC by Pakistan and its essence, which should have been a cross cutting subject for every department ranging from the department of education to taxation and finance department, said Raza.

Two child participants presented their issues and raised their concerns on the lack of laws for their protection and lack of proper facilities to ensure their basic right to survival and development.

Mr. I. A. Rehma, Secretary General, Human Rights Commission Pakistan, said that the government has signed and ratified many international charters and commitments and almost none of them have ever attained any attention by the successive governments in the past and even by the current government.

He recommended that the federal government must invite all the provincial governments to list down all the international commitments and prioritize all their implementation according to the need of the hour. He stressed that we have not only have pending bills for enactment but we also have flaws in the mechanism of the implementation of the already enacted laws said the Secretary General.

It is unfair by the government departments to give reasons for the delays, gaps and loopholes in the development of policies for child rights and protection they should rather put the controversies on the table for discussion and consultation that they are facing to ensure the promotion of child rights , he added. Emphasising the importance of the UNCRC, Ali Nawaz Chowhan, Chair Person NCHR stated that actually Pakistan does not need to make any law after being a signatory.

The UNCRC is such a magnificent document in itself and its preamble is a wonderful piece of document that encompasses all aspects of child rights . Stressing the importance of the submission of the state’s report on child rights by the human rights department, he raised his deep concerns over the remarks given by the UN committee on child rights that Pakistan has not followed the guidelines for the submission of the state reports.

Ashtar Ali, Minister of State and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Law thanked the child participants on the reminder of the ratification of the UNCRC.

He promised that he will personally lobby for the enactment of all the pending bills related to child rights and he also promised that he will ensure the provision of clean water to the area from which the child participant raised the issue.