Provincial commission on child rights
02 October, 2012
Article 25 (3) of the constitution of Pakistan recognises special rights for the protection of children due to their vulnerability. Pakistan ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on November 12, 1990, which provides broader outlines for the promotion and protection of child rights. Every person below the age of 18 years is a child under the UNCRC. Over 47 percent of the total population of Pakistan consists of children less than 18 years of age. The UNCRC made it obligatory on the states that ratify the convention to take all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights enshrined in the convention. The 18th constitutional amendment passed by parliament has made child rights a provincial subject. It is important to note though that children constitute almost 50 percent of the total population of the provinces but still there is no body with a statutory status for the promotion and protection of their rights.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its concluding observations to Pakistan in 2009, recommended the establishment of an independent monitoring structure with a mandate to regularly evaluate progress in the implementation of the convention. In compliance of the committee's recommendation, the provincial governments should immediately establish an independent and empowered provincial commission for the rights of children. The proposed commission should act as a focal point for effective supervision and coordination of minor rights-related matters in general and children at risk in particular at the provincial level in respect of the activities necessary for the survival, development, protection and participation of children. The major role of the commission should be to comment on proposed new legislation at the earliest possible stage and require the government to issue child impact assessments to ensure that the legislation complies with the best interests of the child. The commission should also analyse existing laws, policies and practices to assess each province's compliance with the convention and other international human rights obligations relating to children so as to make recommendations to the government. The commission should look at existing government statistics on children in general and children at risk in particular to identify the need for disaggregated data; where there is a lack of existing information about their lives, it should produce data of its own through commissioned research or urge the government to undertake the necessary research as well as collect and publish data. Promoting the rights of our children should be a priority for all concerned.