Govt making efforts to protect rights of children through reforms: Dr Marzari

ISLAMABAD, Jun 18 (APP): Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari on Friday outlined government’s efforts to protect the rights of children through institutional mechanisms, evidence generation, awareness campaigns and legal and policy reforms.

She expressed these words in a webinar held here marking the commemoration of international year for the elimination of child labor organized by the UNDP.

In her address, Dr. Mazari stated that “Child Labour is a violation of Pakistan’s constitution, which forbids children under 14 from undertaking hazardous work”.

She stressed that COVID-19 has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities globally, but the government is taking proactive measures to ensure children are protected from child labor as it’s detrimental psychological and physical impacts.

“We are committed as a state to ending child labor in all its forms, in accordance to International Labour Organization (ILO) laws and the International Convention on Rights of the Child, to which Pakistan is a signatory,” she said.

Dr Mazari described the legislative measures taken by provinces to protect the rights of children.

All provinces have enacted laws to prohibit and punish child labour, such as the The Balochistan Child Protection Act, 2016 and Sindh Prohibition of Employment Children Act, 2017.

An amendment has also been introduced in the ICT Employment of Children Act 1991, which proscribes domestic labor by children under 14 years of age.

Moreover, the National Commission on the Rights of Child has been enacted under the National Commission on the Rights of the Child Act, 2017 to monitor child rights/child labour situation in the country and take punitive measures to redress victims’ grievances.

The Minister also highlighted the recently inaugurated “Shaheed Aitzaz Hasan Child Protection Institute” established under the ICT Child Protection Act, 2018, to provide care and protection services to vulnerable children at the ICT level child laborers.

The Institute also provides rescue, shelter, counseling, family tracing, and rehabilitation services to street children, or children who are trafficked, lost and neglected.

The Ministry of Human Rights is also in the process of finalising a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, with the support of UNDP, which proposes several federal and provincial actions to be taken for the protection, respect, and remedy of human rights within business activity, including actions related to the elimination of child labour.

The Minister concluded her address by stressing that “it is intolerable that children should be working in exploitative or dangerous conditions, and the government is playing proactive role in protecting children from the dangers of child labour – in line with Pakistan’s constitutional and international obligations.”